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What does "drug paraphernalia" mean in Washington?

Those who have never been charged with a drug offense may assume that only people who have drugs in their possession can be charged with a crime. In reality, people in Washington State who are not actively using drugs and don't have any drugs in their possession can still face various drug charges. One of these charges is possession of drug paraphernalia.

How does the state of Washington define drug paraphernalia? There are several elements to the state's definition. The first is that it includes materials, equipment or products. These materials, equipment or products are drug paraphernalia if they are used, intended to be used for or designed to be used for a multitude of drug-related functions. These functions include, but are not limited to, the following: growing, harvesting, planting, propagating, producing, manufacturing, packaging, storing, inhaling, ingesting, or converting a controlled substance for use in the human body.

Drug paraphernalia in Washington can encompass a huge variety of items, but some of the most common include planting kids, devices used for isomerization, balances and scales, hypodermic needles, capsules, pipes and bongs, roach clips and certain diluents and adulterants. Drug paraphernalia may also include separation gins, sifters, smoking masks, syringes, and even blenders, bowls and spoons.

In determining if an object is drug paraphernalia, authorities can consider how close the object was to controlled substances, prior convictions on drug offenses of the person who has the paraphernalia, the way in which the object is displayed for sale, statements concerning the object's use and the presence of any residue on the object itself, among other factors.

No one wants to be charged with drug offenses in Washington; there can be serious consequences as well as a social stigma associated with a conviction. A Washington State drug crimes attorney can help a defendant share their side of the story in or out of the courtroom. In doing so, a defendant may be more likely to receive a reduced sentence, dismissed charges or a favorable plea deal.

Source: Washington State Legislature, "Drug paraphernalia - Definitions," accessed Sept. 12, 2015

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