Is It Legal to Gift Drug Paraphernalia?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 28, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We all get in the gift-giving mood around the holidays, and what better gift than that of a good high?

Just kidding. Love is the greatest gift of all, followed closely by a really great bong. No, weed isn't legal in all 50 states (yet), but drug paraphernalia isn't actual drugs, so having it or giving it to someone else shouldn't be against the law, right? So is it illegal to give the gift of drug paraphernalia this holiday season?

Feds and 'Phernalia

Considering the federal prohibition on Schedule I narcotics -- including marijuana -- it makes sense to start at the federal level when looking at possible drug paraphernalia charges. Federal drug statutes make it illegal to:

  • Sell or offer for sale drug paraphernalia
  • Use the mails or any other facility of interstate commerce to transport drug paraphernalia
  • Import or export drug paraphernalia

Missing from that list is the possession or gifting of paraphernalia -- the feds have generally left it to the states to criminalize paraphernalia possession.

State Paraphernalia Statutes

And criminalize paraphernalia possession they do. Drug paraphernalia charges can vary considerably by state, especially considering that state's stance on marijuana. In most states, mere possession of drug paraphernalia (to which you would be exposing yourself after buying it and your gift recipient after receiving it) is a misdemeanor offense, but the particulars can vary widely.

In Washington, D.C., for example, possession of marijuana paraphernalia is not illegal, but possession of a syringe can lead to 6 months in jail. Arizona treats any possession of paraphernalia as a felony, punishable by up to 2 years in jail. Alabama, meanwhile, treats simple possession as a misdemeanor, but if the paraphernalia is or has been used, it can become a felony, carrying a 10-year maximum sentence.

So you may want to think twice before gifting that pipe -- and if you're hit with a drug paraphernalia charge, talk to an experienced local drug crime attorney.

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