Drug paraphernalia (Forensic Science)
In the United States, the classification of particular items as drug paraphernalia may depend on the answers to three questions: Does national or local advertising address how the items are employed in the production, concealment, transportation, or use of illegal drugs? Are the items sold in a manner that implies that they are to be used in relation to illegal drugs? Can expert testimony establish that the items are employed in the production, concealment, transportation, or use of illegal drugs? Whereas some items are specifically designed for the production, concealment, transportation, or use of illegal drugs, many items that can be classified as drug paraphernalia have other legitimate uses as well. For instance, aluminum foil is used to package drugs and to fashion temporary pipes for smoking marijuana or crack cocaine. Eyedrops are used to clear the redness from bloodshot eyes (a common side effect of drug use). Eyedroppers may be used to deliver LSD or to insert injection drugs into syringes. Small mirrors, razor blades, and credit cards are often used to cut up powder cocaine, and rolled-up dollar bills may be used to snort the drug. Sensitive electronic and mail scales are used to weigh drugs for sale. Ropes, belts, and pieces of rubber tubing are used as tourniquets to help veins pop so that drugs may be administered intravenously.
Some items of drug paraphernalia are sold under disclaimers that purport that they are to be used...
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Marijuana Paraphernalia (Forensic Science)
The most widely produced and used illegal drug in the United States is cannabis, more commonly known as marijuana. Marijuana typically consists of green or brown dried flowers and leaves, but the color and texture may vary greatly depending on the strain, batch, and freshness of the product. Marijuana produces psychoactive and disorienting physiological effects such as decreased motor coordination, dizziness, sleepiness, and increased appetite.
Marijuana is usually smoked, whether in the form of a cigarette (known as a joint) or a hollowed-out cigar (blunt) or in some kind of pipe, such as a water or ice bong. It is also sometimes ingested in foods, such as brownies. Cannabis resin is also collected, dried, and compressed into black balls or sheets to produce hashish. Users of hashish break off pieces of these balls and place them in pipes or bongs to smoke the drug.
The following are examples of items of paraphernalia associated with cannabis:
- Plastic sandwich bags and similar small containers (used to store and transport the drug)
- Sensitive electronic and mail scales (used to weigh the drug to set prices for sale)
- Tobacco rolling papers (used to roll marijuana cigarettes)
- Razor blades (used to slit cigars and remove the tobacco so that it may be replaced with marijuana)
- Incense and air deodorizers (used to disguise the odor of marijuana smoke)
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Cocaine and Crack Cocaine Paraphernalia (Forensic Science)
Cocaine is a highly addictive white powder processed from the coca plant. It stimulates the central nervous system and acts as an appetite suppressant. When taken in small amounts, cocaine typically makes the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, and mentally alert. Powder cocaine is usually consumed through inhalation through the nose, or snorting.
Crack cocaine is made from processing cocaine with baking soda and water. The addition of baking soda forms the drug into a solid that may be vaporized and inhaled. (The name “crack” is derived from the crackling sound made when the drug is vaporized.) Inhalation of crack cocaine vapors provides users with a more intense, but short-lived, high than would be achieved from snorting it. On average, crack is made up of about 40 percent cocaine. The amount of cocaine in a batch of crack, as well as the other substances present, depends on the manufacturer. On the street, crack is sold as little white to tan pellets or “rocks.” A user places a rock in a pipe fitted with a fine mesh screen, heats the rock with a flame, which causes it to vaporize, and then inhales the fumes.
The following are examples of items of paraphernalia associated with cocaine and crack:
- Small mirrors or glassy surfaces, razor blades or credit cards, and rolled-up dollar bills or short plastic straws (used to cut up and snort cocaine)
- Glossy, nonporous...
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Inhalant Paraphernalia (Forensic Science)
Most inhalant abuse involves everyday household products. Among the products commonly used by inhalant abusers are ink correction fluids, marking pens, nail polish removers, butane, gasoline, glues and adhesives, paint and paint thinners, and aerosol sprays of many kinds, including cooking sprays, hair sprays, disinfectants, furniture polishes, oven cleaners, and deodorants. Some users spray the contents of aerosol sprays into plastic bags and then inhale the vapors produced. With substances such as propane and butane, users generally inhale the gases directly or from saturated rags. The effects of solvent intoxication vary widely, depending on the amounts and types of solvents or gases inhaled.
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Paraphernalia Intended to Fool Drug Tests (Forensic Science)
A variety of products are marketed in head shops and on the Internet that claim to help drug users pass drug tests. Various drinks, pills, powders, and teas are advertised as being able to speed up the body’s ability to metabolize and thus wash out or disguise the presence of drugs. Some Web sites sell “clean” urine and urine powder or agents that a person can supposedly add to his or her own urine to produce a clean sample. Certain shampoos are advertised as being able to negate evidence of drug use in hair follicle testing. Whether any of these products works or not depends on the type of drug tested for, the level of drugs in the body, the amount of time since last use, the type of test being performed, and the method used to fool the test.
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Further Reading (Forensic Science)
Abadinsky, Howard. Drug Use and Abuse: A Comprehensive Introduction. 6th ed. Belmont, Calif.: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2008. Provides an interdisciplinary survey of the impacts of drugs on American society, including the pharmacological effects of drugs on the body, implications of U.S. drug policy, and the criminal justice system’s response to the drug problem.
Hicks, John. Drug Addiction: “No Way I’m an Addict.” Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook Press, 1997. Discusses drug-abuse treatment strategies, with particular focus on amphetamine addiction.
Karch, Steven B., ed. Drug Abuse Handbook. 2d ed. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2007. Compendium of authoritative information on various aspects of drug abuse includes contributions by medical, legal, and treatment professionals.
LeVert, Suzanne. Drugs: Facts About Cocaine. Tarrytown, N.J.: Marshall Cavendish, 2006. Discusses cocaine use and abuse in detail. Features personal stories of addiction and treatment.
Menhard, Francha Roffé. Drugs: Facts About Amphetamines. Tarrytown, N.J.: Marshall Cavendish, 2006. Provides information on the characteristics, legal status, history, abuse, and treatment of addiction to amphetamines and methamphetamine.
Walker, Samuel. Sense and Nonsense About Crime and Drugs: A Policy Guide. 6th ed. Belmont, Calif.: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2006. Challenges many common...
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