The Bag Man

I was recently in the District Court of Nowata County for a civil motion docket.  Intermixed with the civil matters were several criminal plea hearings.  One of them was for a defendant charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia.  Those are two separate charges, each serving as the basis for criminal penalties.  

When Judge Gibson read the charges, he asked the defendant, who had no legal representation, what type of “drug paraphernalia” he possessed.  “A bag,” said the defendant.

“A bag?  What kind of bag.”

“Just a little plastic baggie.”

Judge Gibson then looked at the Assistant District Attorney and asked him him that was correct.  The Assistant District Attorney sheepishly mumbled that it was correct.

The unrepresented defendant plead guilty to both counts, so the plastic bag discussion did not need to continue.  The judge accepted the plea.

I found it curious that a man can receive jail time for possessing a plastic bag, so I pulled up the statutes.  63 O.S. 2-405 makes use of drug paraphernalia a crime.  It provides, in part:

A. No person shall use tincture of opium, tincture of opium camphorated, or any derivative thereof, by the hypodermic method, either with or without a medical prescription therefor. 

B. No person shall use drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled dangerous substance in violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, except those persons holding an unrevoked license in the professions of podiatry, dentistry, medicine, nursing, optometry, osteopathy, veterinary medicine or pharmacy.

“Drug paraphernalia” is defined by 63 O.S. 2-101:

“Drug paraphernalia” means all equipment, products and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body, a controlled dangerous substance in violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act including, but not limited to:

a. kits used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing or harvesting of any species of plant which is a controlled dangerous substance or from which a controlled dangerous substance can be derived,
b. kits used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing or preparing controlled dangerous substances,
c. isomerization devices used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in increasing the potency of any species of plant which is a controlled dangerous substance,
d. testing equipment used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in identifying, or in analyzing the strength, effectiveness or purity of controlled dangerous substances,
e. scales and balances used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in weighing or measuring controlled dangerous substances,
f. diluents and adulterants, such as quinine hydrochloride, mannitol, mannite, dextrose and lactose, used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in cutting controlled dangerous substances,
g. separation gins and sifters used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in removing twigs and seeds from, or in otherwise cleaning or refining, marihuana,
h. blenders, bowls, containers, spoons and mixing devices used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in compounding controlled dangerous substances,
i. capsules, balloons, envelopes and other containers used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in packaging small quantities of controlled dangerous substances,
j. containers and other objects used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in parenterally injecting controlled dangerous substances into the human body,
k. hypodermic syringes, needles and other objects used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in parenterally injecting controlled dangerous substances into the human body, objects used, intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use in ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing marihuana, cocaine, hashish or hashish oil into the human body, such as:
 

(1) metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic or ceramic pipes with or without screens, permanent screens, hashish heads or punctured metal bowls,
(2) water pipes,
(3) carburetion tubes and devices,
(4) smoking and carburetion masks,
(5) roach clips, meaning objects used to hold burning material, such as a marihuana cigarette, that has become too small or too short to be held in the hand,
(6) miniature cocaine spoons and cocaine vials,
(7) chamber pipes,
(8) carburetor pipes,
(9) electric pipes,
(10) air-driven pipes,
(11) chillums,
(12) bongs, or
(13) ice pipes or chillers,
 

m. all hidden or novelty pipes, and
n. any pipe that has a tobacco bowl or chamber of less than one-half (1/2) inch in diameter in which there is any detectable residue of any controlled dangerous substance as defined in this section or any other substances not legal for possession or use;
provided, however, the term “drug paraphernalia” shall not include separation gins intended for use in preparing tea or spice, clamps used for constructing electrical equipment, water pipes designed for ornamentation in which no detectable amount of an illegal substance is found or pipes designed and used solely for smoking tobacco, traditional pipes of an American Indian tribal religious ceremony, or antique pipes that are thirty (30) years of age or older;

Comprehensive, is it not?  It seems that any object that touches illegal drugs falls within the definition of “drug paraphernalia.”  So yes, a plastic baggie is drug paraphernalia.  Unless you have a way to cause your drugs to follow you about, free-floating in the air, if you possess drugs, you also possess drug paraphernalia and therefore you have committed two separate crimes.  This is one more way the District Attorney can stack up charges and potential penalties in order to pressure a defendant to agree to a plea arrangement.

Or do you think the authorities are just trying to keep Ziplock bags off the streets?

See original post here >>>

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