Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in North Carolina

by | Aug 11, 2020 | Blog Posts, NC Criminal Defense

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class 1 misdemeanor and is governed by N.C.G.S. 90-113.22. Under this law, it is unlawful for any person to knowingly use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, package, repackage, store, contain, or conceal a controlled substance other than marijuana which it would be unlawful to possess, or to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the body a controlled substance other than marijuana which it would be unlawful to possess.

Distinguished from possession of marijuana drug paraphernalia

This crime distinguished from possession of marijuana drug paraphernalia, which is a Class 3 misdemeanor governed by N.C.G.S. 90-113.22A.


Possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class 1 misdemeanor and is sentenced according to North Carolina’s misdemeanor sentencing guidelines. Depending on your prior criminal record, you can face up to 120 days imprisonment, if convicted.

Common types paraphernalia

  • Scales and balances
  • Testing equipment
  • Hypodermic needles
  • Objects for ingesting or inhaling drugs (e.g., pipes, bowls)
  • Containers and other objects for storing or concealing controlled substances
  • Capsules, balloons, envelopes and other containers for packaging small quantities of controlled substances
  • Diluents and adulterants, such as quinine, hydrochloride, mannitol, mannite, dextrose, and lactose for mixing with controlled substances
  • Blenders, bowls, containers, spoons, and mixing devices for compounding controlled substances

Factors used to determine if object is paraphernalia

In determining whether an object found is drug paraphernalia, many factors are considered. The following, along with all other relevant evidence, may be considered in determining whether an object is drug paraphernalia:

  1. Statements by the owner or anyone in control of the object concerning its use
  2. Prior drug convictions of the owner or other person in control of the object
  3. The proximity of the object to a violation of the Controlled Substances Act
  4. The proximity of the object to a controlled substance
  5. The existence of any residue of a controlled substance on the object
  6. The proximity of the object to other drug paraphernalia
  7. Instructions provided with the object concerning its use
  8. Descriptive materials accompanying the object explaining or depicting its use
  9. Advertising concerning its use
  10. The manner in which the object is displayed for sale
  11. Whether the owner, or anyone in control of the object, is a legitimate supplier of like or related items to the community, such as a seller of tobacco products or agricultural supplies
  12. Possible legitimate uses of the object in the community
  13. Expert testimony concerning its use
  14. The intent of the owner or other person in control of the object to deliver it to persons whom he knows or reasonably should know intend to use the object to facilitate drug crimes

Hypodermic needles exception

Prior to a search of a person, a person’s premises, or the person’s vehicle, if the person alerts the officer the presence of sharp object, the person shall not be charged with or prosecuted for possession of drug paraphernalia for the needle or sharp object, or for residual amounts of a controlled substance contained in the needle or sharp object.

This exemption applies only to the hypodermic needle or sharp object that may cut or puncture the officer, and not to any other paraphernalia or drugs that may be found during the search.

If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia or another crime in North Carolina or South Carolina and are in need of a criminal defense lawyer, contact us to discuss your options.

DISCLAIMER – This forum is intended for general questions and comments about the particular law or topic. Comments are public and are not protected by confidentiality or attorney-client privilege; therefore, they can be used against you in court. Please refrain from revealing your identify or specifics about any actual criminal case. No attorney-client relationship is created in this forum.

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