Drug Paraphernalia

Questions about Drug Paraphernalia

What is drug paraphernalia?

The term "drug paraphernalia'' means any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily used in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing an illegal controlled substance into the human body.

Where do kids buy paraphernalia?

Paraphernalia can be bought over the Internet, at tobacco shops, head shops, gift and novelty shops, gas stations, and convenience stores.

What are the legal consequences of paraphernalia?

Under federal law, it is illegal to possess paraphernalia. Specifically, the Controlled Substance Act, states it is unlawful for any person--

     (1) to sell or offer for sale drug paraphernalia;
     (2) to use the mails or any other facility of interstate commerce to transport drug paraphernalia; or
     (3) to import or export drug paraphernalia

For more information, see Drug Paraphernalia, 21 USC863 U.S.C. Controlled Substance Act Offenses and Penalties, www.DEA.gov

To find out the drug paraphernalia laws in your state, check your state’s criminal code.

Drug Paraphernalia—How to Identify It

As a parent a critical part of understanding teen drug use is being aware of the items kids typically use to hide or consume drugs. You may find these items in your child’s bedroom, car or backpack.

Items that can be used to conceal drugs include:

  • Plastic baggies or small paper bags
  • Cigarette packages
  • Small glass vials
  • Pill bottles
  • Candy or gum wrappers
  • Baseball cap/ski cap
  • Belt buckle
  • Felt tip marker and lipstick dispensers
  • Make-up bags

Drugs and Specific Paraphernalia

The items listed may be used with the specific drug.


  • Rolling papers
  • Cigars used to fill with marijuana to make a blunt
  • Pipes (metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, ceramic)
  • Bongs (a filtration device to smoke marijuana)
  • Roach clips (a metal holder for a marijuana cigarette)


  • Pipes
  • Small mirrors, small spoons, and short plastic straws or rolled-up paper tubes
  • Razor blades
  • Lighters


  • Glow sticks, surgical mask/dust mask (used by kids on ecstasy to over stimulate senses
  • Pacifiers and lollipops used to prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching, a side effect of ecstasy
  • Bags of candy to hide ecstasy pills


  • Rags used for sniffing
  • Empty spray cans
  • Tubes of glue
  • Balloons
  • Nozzles
  • Bottles or cans with hardened glue, sprays, paint or chemical odors inside

Other Signs

Some items may be used to cover up drug use.

  • Mouth wash, mints, breathe sprays are used to cover up alcohol or drug use.
  • Eye drops are used to conceal bloodshot eyes.
  • Sun glasses hid red eyes from smoking drugs or changes in pupil size or eye movements related to drug use.

Some teens may use other items or associations that indicate interest in illegal drugs or drug use.

  • Clothing, jewelry, temporary or permanent tattoos, teen slang, may represent drug culture messages.
  • Websites, music, or publications that glamorize drug use.