Handbook of Drug Control in the United States

By James A. Inciardi | Go to book overview

Appendix B
Controlling Drug Paraphernalia

Kerry Murphy Healey

In 1980 the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control charged that the drug paraphernalia industry posed "a severe threat to the educational, social, and emotional development of our youth." 1 Over the past decade a majority of state and local legislators have supported the proposition that laws controlling the sale of drug paraphernalia are an important component of the nation's campaign against drug abuse. At present, forty-nine states and the District of Columbia seek to control the sale of drug paraphernalia under state law or local ordinances. Thirty-eight of these states and the District of Columbia have enacted statutes based on the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA's) Model Drug Paraphernalia Act (the Model Act) of 1979. In October of 1986 the federal government addressed the issue of drug paraphernalia control by adopting a Model Act--based law prohibiting the use of the postal service, or any other interstate conveyance, as a part of a scheme to sell drug paraphernalia. The federal law also banned the import of drug paraphernalia. 2 Since it is still too early to gauge the impact of federal antiparaphernalia laws, this appendix will assess the development and efficacy of state-level drug paraphernalia controls.

The DEA's Model Act was drafted to provide the basis for more uniform paraphernalia regulation and to attempt to answer the most difficult question confronted by legislators in this field: What are drug paraphernalia? The Model Act focuses on the intent of those who manufacture, sell, or use paraphernalia. Thus, under the Model Act, a pipe is a legal object when manufactured, sold, and used for legal purposes, but becomes drug paraphernalia when it is designed or intended for use with illegal drugs.

The Model Act focuses on the intent of the paraphernalia manufacturer, seller, or user because the range of objects that may be employed as drug paraphernalia is limited only by one's imagination. Many drug paraphernalia are also common household items (e.g., mirrors, razors, baking soda, blenders) or objects used primarily for legal purposes (e.g., pipes, grow-lights for plants, rolling papers,

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