If you have a glass bong, one common question you may be wondering about is whether you’re legally able to carry it around in public, or if a police officer could arrest you for that.
There’s no simple yes or no answer, because whether you’re arrested will depend quite a bit on any substances in the bong, where you’re located and the officer who stops you. To play it safe, your best bet is to avoid openly carrying your glass bong around whenever possible.
Here’s what you need to know about the legality of glass bongs.
The Distinction Between Water Pipes and Drug Paraphernalia
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has a long list of items that it classifies as drug paraphernalia, and this list includes items that can be used to either make or consume illegal drugs. It’s not a black and white issue with every item, though, as certain items exist in a gray area where they could be considered either a legal item or drug paraphernalia, depending on the use. Glass bongs are one such item.
A glass bong is technically drug paraphernalia, which is why shops don’t refer to the item as such. Instead, they sell water pipes and indicate that the items are only intended for use with tobacco. It’s basically a loophole, as a glass bong and a water pipe are the same thing.
Now, could you use this as a defense if you were carrying around a glass bong? You could tell any police officer who stopped you that it’s a water pipe and you only use it to smoke tobacco. You’re within your rights to carry it around if that’s the case.
The two potential problems you can run into are whether there’s any marijuana resin in the pipe and if the officer fully understands drug paraphernalia laws or not.
If there is any marijuana resin in the pipe, then technically you’re carrying around drug paraphernalia.
Even if it’s a water pipe that hasn’t ever been near any marijuana, you could still end up under arrest if you run into an overzealous police officer. This obviously isn’t your fault and a good lawyer could likely get the case dismissed, but it’s a major inconvenience.
Penalties for Carrying a Glass Bong with You
The penalties for possession of a glass bong will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your case and the state you were in when the arrest occurred. Not every state has laws prohibiting possession of a glass bong, and if you’re in a state that doesn’t, you’re unlikely to be arrested for it. This kind of leniency is more common in states with relaxed marijuana laws.
Possession of a glass bong is typically considered a misdemeanor. If you’re found guilty or plead guilty, you’ll need to pay a fine. On a first offense, you may be able to get the charge taken off your record if you avoid committing any other crimes for a set period of time.
The penalties will increase on subsequent offenses. Another potential issue that can make your penalties worse is if you were in a school zone and carrying a glass bong around. Going across state lines can also be a bigger problem, because then you’re breaking a federal law by transporting drug paraphernalia from state to state.
With the complexities and confusion regarding drug paraphernalia laws, it’s a good idea to avoid carrying your glass bong around with you. If you decide to do it anyway, make sure it’s clean and doesn’t have any marijuana residue.