In the eyes of the law, possession of drug paraphernalia is almost as bad as possessing illicit substances themselves. Under Pennsylvania law, it could incur fines and possible jail time.
The stakes are even higher for college students. Jail time may disrupt their studies and fines may make paying tuition difficult, if not impossible. Both legal consequences and disciplinary action from the college or university may affect the future prospects of a student convicted of possessing drug paraphernalia.
What is drug paraphernalia?
FindLaw gives a broad definition of drug paraphernalia as anything that helps to ingest illegal drugs. Depending on the context, common items such as razor blades, spoons and measuring scales may be drug paraphernalia. Unsurprisingly, drug paraphernalia also includes items made for use with illegal drugs, such as rolling papers, bongs and pipes.
What are the legal consequences of possessing paraphernalia?
Federal law is mostly silent on the subject of drug paraphernalia except in transactions that cross state lines. Transporting or selling paraphernalia in another state is a felony under federal law.
Otherwise, states have jurisdiction over possession of paraphernalia within their borders. According to Bloomsburg University, possession of drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania is punishable with either a fine up to $2,500 or up to a year in jail.
What are the additional consequences for college students?
The governing board of a college or university can impose its own penalties independent of the criminal justice system. Following a conviction on charges of drug paraphernalia, a student may find it more difficult to obtain scholarships and financial aid. This may put the completion of a degree out of one’s reach. If one does complete one’s degree, a criminal record can follow one for many years, complicating one’s ability to find a place to live or obtain a job.