Yesterday, in the comments, writer and lawyer Dusty Rhoades (Breaking Cover - buy it!) reminded us that as screwy as the drug laws are, the drug paraphernalia laws are even screwier. For instance, a sandwich bag in the hands of June Cleaver is innocent. The same sandwich bag tucked into the back of Eddie Haskell's sock drawer is a dangerous resealable crime accessory!
And just about anyone can be accused of having drug paraphernalia in their possession. Do you think that hand mirror is just something you use to check for spinach stuck in your teeth?
Au contraire, my little cabbage of vanity. It could also be an item commonly used to injest cocaine and heroin.A soda can might look innocent to the uninformed mom, but a teenager can turn that Tab into a crack pipe faster than you can say Dick Tracy.
Even the humble apple, in the hands of a corrupt drug fiend, can be turned into a bong. Yes. A bong. These are the kinds of things that keep John Ashcroft awake at night.
The best I can figure is, if you hold an apple and think yummy thoughts, it's just a piece of fruit. But if I hold the apple and think pipe, then it's drug paraphernalia and police can bust my head and toss me into the cooler with the other miscreants.
Which still doesn't answer the question, if an undercover cop buys a bong to use as evidence in court, than why is that illegal?
I don't understand the law.
But as screwed up as the paraphernalia laws are, they're not half as pernicious as drug forfeiture laws. Check out this story.
Forfeiture laws go back to the time of the tall ships, but once the courts OKed them for the drug war, law enforcement saw a way to get valuable cash and prizes without the hassle of actually going to court and proving a crime was committed.
About ten years ago, an older black man was stopped in our local airport because he had a few thousand dollars in his pocket. The man said he was going to New Jersey to buy a car from his brother. The cop said the man was going to New Jersey to buy drugs.
A quick background check revealed that the man had once been arrested for possession of pot. That's all the cop needed. He took the man's money. To get it back, the man then had to go to court and prove that he was innocent. That's right. The state doesn't have to prove he was guilty to keep his cash. He had to prove he was innocent. And how hard is that? This is from the NYT story:
The Mercury News found dozens of cases in which claimants without lawyers had to fill out 14-page questionnaires with nearly 200 questions and were asked to produce documentation for purchases, bank statements, canceled checks and a list of medical and dental expenses dating back five years. Claimants can also be forced to undergo hours of cross-examination from a prosecutor.So kids, the next time you see a Bible in somebody's house, remember, it could be something totally innocent.
Or someone could be using the pages for rolling big fat Gospel doobies.
If I were you, I'd call the cops, just to be on the safe side. Even if it's your mom's.