Drug paraphernalia laws are some of the more confusing restrictions in the country, and they have only gotten more difficult to understand with many states relaxing their marijuana laws. It’s natural to wonder if you can carry a glass bong around with you, or if you’re risking getting arrested for doing so.
Technically, a glass bong is drug paraphernalia under federal law, which makes it illegal. However, there are a couple factors that will determine whether you get arrested for possessing one or not.
Glass Bong or Water Pipe?
If you’ve ever visited a tobacco shop, you may have seen glass bongs for sales under the name “water pipes,” accompanied by a sign stating that the items are for tobacco use only. There’s an important reason that retailers do this.
An item that you can use to consume illegal drugs is considered drug paraphernalia, as marijuana is still illegal under federal law, regardless of what individual states have chosen to do. Therefore, an item that allows for the consumption of marijuana, such as a glass bong, would fit into the drug paraphernalia category.
By calling a glass bong a water pipe and stating that it’s only for tobacco use, shops are able to sell these products without running afoul of the law.
Now, if a police officer wanted to arrest you over your bong and you claimed it was a water pipe that you only use to smoke tobacco, you may or may not be successful. It would depend on whether the officer believed you. If you were arrested and your case went to court, a key factor would be if there was any marijuana residue found in the pipe, which means you would need to keep your pipe clean to use this defense.
State Laws Differ on Drug Paraphernalia
Each state sets its own drug paraphernalia laws. In some states, you would need to be selling a glass bong or transporting it over state lines to run afoul of the law. In others, possession of drug paraphernalia is illegal, which means you could be arrested just for carrying that glass bong around.
It’s a good idea to check the drug paraphernalia laws in your state to make sure. States that have been more relaxed with marijuana laws are also typically less strict regarding paraphernalia.
Of course, if you keep your bong clean and refer to it as a glass pipe, you could use that defense even in a state that made possession of drug paraphernalia illegal, although you’d likely be better off keeping the bong somewhere safe and avoiding the hassle.
Potential Penalties for Drug Paraphernalia Possession
If you’re charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, you could end up with fines and even up to one year in jail. Jailtime is unlikely, though, especially if it’s your first offense. The charge is typically a misdemeanor, and you’ll just need to pay a fine if you’re found guilty.
Keep in mind that penalties can get more severe depending on the circumstances of your case, though. The penalties obviously go up for repeat offenders, and you are also looking at harsher punishments if you were in a school zone with your glass bong.
To avoid any issues, it’s best to not carry around your glass bong if you can help it, or at least keep it concealed. Should you get arrested for your bong, you should consult with a skilled lawyer who can prepare your defense. Your lawyer may be able to argue that it was a water pipe and your arrest was unjust.