Drug laws do not only criminalize illegal drugs. There are some objects which people use to package, analyze or ingest controlled substances. The law calls these objects drug paraphernalia. Under state law, it is illegal to possess materials and devices if they qualify as paraphernalia.
There may be a question of whether or not an object is actually drug paraphernalia. North Carolina law establishes some guidelines to help clarify this issue.
The location of the item
Links to illegal drugs may qualify materials as paraphernalia. A police officer might discover a measuring device with drug residue on it, or the device could be in storage near illegal drugs or other paraphernalia. State law also says that an item is paraphernalia if it is near any violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
The presentation of the item
Sometimes instructions or the labeling of an item give it away as paraphernalia. State law explains that law enforcement may take the following into consideration:
- Descriptive materials showing how to use the item
- Advertisements of the item
- The display of the item for sale
- How the owner or seller depicts the item
Another factor is whether the person selling the item can legally sell it or similar items in a community. For instance, people cannot sell tobacco products without proper authorization.
Legal use of the item
While some paraphernalia is obviously illegal, materials such as bags and spoons do have legitimate purposes. Possible legal use of an item may counter a charge that it is paraphernalia if other factors such as proximity to illegal drugs do not apply.
Knowing the state standards for drug paraphernalia might make a difference for someone dealing with a paraphernalia possession charge.