The Metaphysics of Utah’s Drug Paraphernalia Act
The Buddhists sometimes say that “the universe exists in a grain of sand” when explaining the concept of interdependence among all things. It seems the Utah legislature was strikingly Buddhist when drafting the Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act, because the way they defined “paraphernalia” makes paraphernalia exist in all things, too.
Under Utah Statute 58-37a-3, drug paraphernalia means “any equipment, product, or material used, or intended for use, to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, package, repackage, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, or to otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the human body.” Damn.
I had one prosecutor tell me recently that he believes “drug paraphernalia” includes not only the blackened pipe, but the plastic baggie with residue in it, or even the pocket of your jacket, if you’re carrying your pot loose (like all the kids do these days). Given the language of the statute (“…any product or material used . . . to store, contain or conceal”), he might be right. The question, then, is where does such logic reach a stopping point? Is your car “paraphernalia” if you use it to “store or contain” a controlled substances? I don’t know.
Certainly, any traditional “product or material” in which the controlled substance is found will count: small wooden boxes, film canisters, or [choose your hiding place]. It seems very hard, if not impossible, to be caught with a controlled substance without illegal paraphernalia to store it in. Maybe if you’ve got it in your hand, or your mouth. I believe (or hope, at least) that your hand is not a “material” which turns into paraphernalia when it holds marijuana.
One thing is for sure though, any “material . . . used to plant . . . or grow . . . a controlled substance” becomes illegal paraphernalia under the Utah statute, including–if it became mixed with the potting soil–a single grain of sand.
The Buddhists would be so proud.