At first glance the difference seems obvious. One is a charge for possessing an illegal drug and the other is a charge for possession paraphernalia related to the drug. This is true; however the difference between the two charges gets a little deeper. If I asked you which charge was more serious in North Carolina, what would you guess? If you are like most people you probably assume that actually possessing drugs is more serious, and if I didn’t know better I would tend to think the same thing. However the state of North Carolina has decided to punish the possession of drug paraphernalia more seriously than possession of drugs. A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia is classified as a level 1 offense where as a misdemeanor possession of drugs is classified as a level 3 offense. Does this make sense to you?
Another point I would like to make regarding possession of paraphernalia is what the law considers to be paraphernalia. Generally anything, and I mean anything, which can be used for selling, purchasing, distributing, or manufacturing drugs may be considered paraphernalia. Most of us would associate items used to ingest drugs such as pipes or bongs with paraphernalia, but you may be receive this charge for items such as a scale or sandwich baggies.