Marijuana Paraphernalia Offenses
As part of efforts to crack down on drug use, many places make it a crime to possess or sell items that can aid someone to use, manufacture, process, or package drugs. However, items that might be considered marijuana paraphernalia also can have numerous other legal uses. The very notion of marijuana paraphernalia can be complicated as a result.
In Michigan, you may be charged with possession of marijuana paraphernalia in certain cities and counties with their own local laws addressing possession. You can be charged with selling marijuana paraphernalia anywhere in the state. If you’re convicted, you face misdemeanor penalties and other consequences that may include:
- A jail sentence
- Expensive fines
- Suspension of your driver’s license
- A permanent criminal record that can affect your ability to get or keep a job
- Loss of eligibility for financial aid if you’re a college student
If you’ve been charged, you don’t have to face the legal process alone. A Michigan drug defense attorney can explain your options for fighting the charge, the possible outcomes, and what to expect in court.
What is Marijuana Paraphernalia?
At its most basic, the term “drug paraphernalia” means anything you would use to assist you to use a drug, to manufacture a drug, to cultivate a plant, or to package or process a drug delivery or sale. When talking specifically about marijuana, paraphernalia might include:
- Roach clips
- Rolling papers
- Pipes, bubblers, or hookahs
- Weights or scales to measure marijuana
- Separation gins or sifters
- Grow lights or cultivation kits
Under Section 333.7451 of the Michigan Public Health Code, if an item is designed for the use, cultivation, packaging, or processing of marijuana, it may be considered paraphernalia.
Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia
Michigan doesn’t currently have a state law that makes it a crime to possess marijuana paraphernalia. However, individual cities, townships, or counties may have ordinances on their books that address paraphernalia possession. Paraphernalia possession is a crime under some local laws. It also can be a civil matter that results in a fine, or in temporary loss of access to your property.
For example, Detroit is one of the places where it’s a crime to possess marijuana or other drug paraphernalia under city law. Detroit makes paraphernalia possession a misdemeanor offense. If you’re convicted, the penalty includes up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 under city law.
As another example, in Grand Rapids possession of drug paraphernalia may result in your residence being declared a public nuisance if there are repeated offenses. When a property has been declared a public nuisance, the city can order that you vacate the property and prohibit anyone from occupying the property for up to 1 year. You also may be liable for any costs associated with the city padlocking or boarding up your property.
Sale of Marijuana Paraphernalia
Under Section 333.7453 of the Michigan Public Health Code, it is illegal anywhere in the state to sell paraphernalia or offer paraphernalia for sale when you know that it will be used to use, grow, process, or package drugs. This statute primarily is aimed at businesses like head shops that offer bongs, roach clips, and other items for sale.
If you’re suspected of selling marijuana paraphernalia, the prosecutor or the state attorney general is required to send you a notice at least 2 days before your arrest. The notice is supposed to state the specific material you are alleged to possess, and request that you stop selling it or offering it for sale. If you comply with this notice, Section 333.7453(3) allows you a complete defense to the sale of paraphernalia charge as long as you remain in compliance.
If you’re convicted of selling marijuana paraphernalia, the offense is a misdemeanor punishable under Michigan statute by:
- Up to 90 days in jail
- A fine of up to $5,000.
However, the statute says that you’re over 18 and are convicted of selling paraphernalia to a minor, you can be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $7,500.
It’s important to note that actual penalties may vary from what is in Michigan statutes because of a recent court decision. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that judges have the power to determine “reasonable” sentences, and should not be restricted by the sentencing ranges created by the Legislature in statutes. An experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer can help you understand how this might affect your case. A lawyer also can make an argument why you deserve a more lenient sentence if you’re convicted.
Defending Your Marijuana Paraphernalia Charge
A charge of possessing or selling marijuana paraphernalia can boil down to a simple mistake or misunderstanding. Items that can be defined as paraphernalia also may have many other legitimate purposes. A pipe, hookah, or rolling papers can be used to smoke totally legal tobacco, and people over a certain age might remember a fashion fad from the 1980s involving people wearing feathered roach clips in their hair as decorations. You might be on a diet and using a kitchen scale to measure food portions, not pot.
If you’ve been charged with a crime related to marijuana paraphernalia, a skilled Michigan drug defense attorney can help you fight the charge. You may have many options for a defense to your charge. Maybe the prosecutor got the facts wrong, as in the example above, and the item wasn’t intended as drug paraphernalia at all. There also may have been problems with a traffic stop or search that resulted in your arrest. If you’re a business owner who offered items for sale and discontinued selling them in compliance with a notice, you also have a defense to a Michigan marijuana paraphernalia charge.
A good Michigan criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you get your charge dismissed, convince a jury to acquit you, or negotiate with a prosecutor to have your charge or penalties reduced.
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