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Kevin O'Flaherty

This article came about because of an inquiry by one of our readers. So, In this article, we’ll discuss the legality of drug paraphernalia in Illinois and attempt to answer the following questions, “What is considered marijuana drug paraphernalia?”, “What does the current law surrounding paraphernalia and marijuana say?” and “Is it illegal to possess marijuana paraphernalia in Illinois after January 1st, 2020?”

Back in June of 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill legalizing the use of recreational marijuana by adults, beginning January 1st, 2020. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act included a number of stipulations on the possession, sale, trafficking, and cultivation of marijuana in Illinois. For more information on this, checkout or Illinois Marijuana Law FAQ. After combing through the new law, it seems that the specific language surrounding drug paraphernalia remains unchanged. However, it would seem that the language associated with marijuana paraphernalia being illegal has been removed. This is an interpretation and not a legal recommendation. To make more sense of this, it’s essential to understand all facets of current marijuana and paraphernalia laws.

What is considered marijuana drug paraphernalia?

This is perhaps the most challenging part of answering the original question posited by this article. Under the Drug Paraphernalia Control Act, paraphernalia could qualify as any equipment, product, or material that is intended to be used unlawfully for the “planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, retesting, analyzing, containing, storing, sealing, injecting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the body a controlled substance in violation of the law. The point of all that is to say the law casts a vast net over what is considered drug paraphernalia. This can be broken down further to include almost any type of kit, pipe, bong, or possibly even vaporizer, etc. So, the question then becomes, “What if I’m only using it for marijuana?”

What is the current law regarding marijuana and paraphernalia?

This question is difficult to answer without separating out marijuana and paraphernalia. Again, for more information on marijuana laws in Illinois, check out our FAQ. The law for DRUG paraphernalia is still very clear. The main points include:

  1. Possession-related crimes are considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500.00 fine,
  2. Sale of drug paraphernalia - being charged with a Class 4 felony, leading to 1 to 3 years jail time and a fine of up to $25,000.00
  3. Selling to a person under 18 years of age - being charged with a Class 3 felony, leading to 2 to 5 years jail time and a $25,000.00 fine.
  4. Selling to a pregnant person - can be charged with a Class 2 felony leading to 3 to 7 years and a $25,000.00 fine.

These are the laws surrounding drug paraphernalia in general. Herein lies the problem. A device that is used for cannabis could also be used for cocaine or some other controlled substance. Sure, we could argue that specific devices, such as syringes, are pretty clear-cut in their use, but certain types of pipes could undoubtedly be used to smoke different types of controlled substances. This raises the question, “How is law enforcement supposed to know the paraphernalia’s original purpose?”

Is it still illegal to possess drug paraphernalia in Illinois?

Looking at Legiscan and digging deeper into the law, it seems that the language surrounding marijuana and drug paraphernalia has been removed or stricken. Taking this into account and everything previously discussed, it would seem that an individual possessing drug paraphernalia could conceivably still be arrested. However, we could argue that if the paraphernalia is obviously used for marijuana, then there would be no illegal activity, as long as the amount of marijuana falls within the new legal limits.

Obviously, the safest decision is to follow the new marijuana laws and only consume marijuana in places where it is legal and when transporting marijuana and paraphernalia, do so in a way that does not suggest you are consuming or planning to consume the marijuana in your vehicle. Think, out of arms reach from any passenger, preferably in the trunk. If you follow the new marijuana laws, you should have less to be concerned with in regard to possessing marijuana-related paraphernalia. However, the legalization of recreational marijuana is still new in Illinois, and the interpretation of the law ultimately falls on who enforces it. If you have questions about this topic or anything else, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our legal professionals at O’Flaherty law.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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