Many people are surprised to learn that someone can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia even if no illegal drugs are involved. In fact, while drug possession charges often accompany drug paraphernalia charges, they are actually two distinct offenses under Ohio law.

For example, one situation in which drug paraphernalia charges often arise independent of drug possession charges is when police pull over a driver and they find drug paraphernalia in the car — or at least what they think is drug paraphernalia.

So the question becomes, what exactly does Ohio law consider to be drug paraphernalia? Well, the relevant statute says that drug paraphernalia is “any equipment, product, or material of any kind” that is intended to be used, designed to be used or actually used in the growing, harvesting, manufacturing, cultivating, producing, preparing, testing, inhaling, etc., of illegal controlled substances.

While Ohio law does delineate several specific examples of what is considered drug paraphernalia, it also lists several factors police officers can use to determine if a particular material or piece of equipment is drug paraphernalia or not. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The proximity of the equipment to any illegal drugs
  • The existence of any drug residue on the equipment
  • The existence and scope of any legitimate uses for the equipment
  • Any statement by the owner of the equipment concerning its intended use
  • Any written instructions or descriptive material provided with the equipment concerning its intended use
  • Any advertising for the equipment that may indicate its intended use

How serious is a drug paraphernalia charge?

In most cases, possession of drug paraphernalia is a fourth degree misdemeanor in Ohio. However, an individual involved in the sale or advertising of drug paraphernalia will often face more serious charges.

In addition, anyone found in violation of the state’s drug paraphernalia laws may have their driver’s license suspended. Indeed, a court can suspend their license for up to five years