In the state of North Dakota, the nature and severity of charges that a person faces for a drug offense can depend upon multiple factors. For instance, misdemeanor and/or felony charges can be issued in some cases involving particular types of drug paraphernalia. Understanding the law and how it is applied in specific cases can be difficult, and recent changes to state guidelines may affect how future drug offenses are handled.
The definition for what constitutes drug paraphernalia under North Dakota state law is intentionally vague. According to chapter 19 of the North Dakota legislature, drug paraphernalia is described as all materials, products and equipment for the intended or actual use, cultivating, manufacturing or ingesting of an illegal controlled substance. Consequently, some of the items that can be identified as drug paraphernalia include but are not limited to:
- A scale used or intended to be used to weigh or measure controlled substances
- An envelope used or intended to be used to package small amounts of controlled substances
- Glass, plastic or wooden pipes used or intended to be used to ingest controlled substances
As of August 1, 2015, a state bill is set to go into effect that lowers some drug paraphernalia charges. At the moment, possession of marijuana drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by a $3,000 fine and maximum one-year jail sentence. That offense is expected to become a Class B misdemeanor, which is equal in severity to a marijuana drug possession charge. Charges relating to drug paraphernalia possession that is not linked to marijuana will change as well. A first-time offense of drug paraphernalia possession will become a Class A misdemeanor from a Class C felony. Such changes are intended to streamline the court process, as well as provide both defendants and prosecutors with negotiating tools.