Possession of Paraphernalia Charge in El Cerrito with Violation of Penal Code H&S 11364

Rabin Nabizadeh
March 7, 2013

A 32-year-old unnamed man from El Sobrante was caught by surprise in a women’s restroom in the local El Cerrito Safeway supermarket when a young child reported smelling strange smoke and seeing a pornographic magazine while there.  It seems that the man was smoking a cocaine-laced marijuana cigarette, reading pornographic materials, and had a young child with him.  He also admitted to stealing a soda from the store.

Local law enforcement officials charged the man with possession of drugs and of drug paraphernalia.

Certainly, it is understandable that the man was arrested for drug possession, but what was the paraphernalia?   California’s Health and Safety Code, section 11364 offers the definition of “drug paraphernalia” and according to this document, it includes pipes, needles, small cocaine spoons, and other instruments used in the use of illegal drugs.

However, the man in the El Cerrito Safeway was smoking a marijuana cigarette; this brings up an interesting question – is the possession of rolling papers illegal in the state of California? You can buy rolling papers in any local convenience store – this much is true.  The truth of the matter is that rolling papers alone, which could be used for tobacco and not illegal narcotics, cannot be considered drug paraphernalia.  While the possession of other types of paraphernalia (like the ones listed above) are usually considered a felony in California, the possession of rolling papers alone is not considered a felony and you are unlikely to be charged with this particular offense if these papers are found on you.  Whether the El Cerrito man had other drug paraphernalia in his possession is another matter.

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