Not only does Georgia law prohibit the possession of controlled substances, it also makes it unlawful to possess the tools or equipment used in the drug trade or use of drugs. These tools are commonly referred to as paraphernalia. Items such as pipes, needles, grinders, or bongs often come to mind. In and of themselves, these items may be perfectly legal to possess, but when discovered adjacent to a controlled substance, or when the items contain the residue of a controlled substance, that’s when you could be charged with “Drug Related Objects.”
O.C.G.A. § 16-13-32.2 makes it unlawful to possess or use drug related objects. “It shall be unlawful for any person to use, or possess with the intent to use, any object or materials of any kind for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body marijuana or a controlled substance.”
It is important to note that any object or material of any kind can constitute a drug related object. However, Georgia Senate Bill No. 164 would amend and revise the above law by making it inapplicable hypodermic needles or syringes.
No possession: The State has to prove the person was in knowing possession (actual or constructive) in order to sustain a conviction.
In Wright v. State, 355 Ga.App. 417 (2020), the evidence was insufficient to demonstrate that probationer possessed methamphetamine pipe found in truck parked outside residence where probationer was being arrested on unrelated charge, and thus revocation of probation was precluded based on possession of pipe; there was no admissible evidence showing that probationer possessed pipe, and no non-hearsay evidence showed that probationer owned truck.
Lawful Purpose / No Intent: The State has to prove the items were possessed with the intent to be used with an illegal purpose. A bong, in and of itself, with no marijuana residue and without any evidence of drug possession or use would not be sufficient to convict for drug related objects.
In Holloway v. State, 297 Ga.App. 81 (2009), the evidence was sufficient to show that defendant had joint possession of two crack-pipe filters found in a vehicle that he was driving and in which a passenger was riding, so as to support a conviction for possessing a drug-related object; as the driver, defendant was presumed to have possession of contraband in the vehicle, and the state presented evidence that defendant and the passenger were involved in the crack-cocaine drug trade.
Possession of a drug related object is a misdemeanor and can carry up to 12 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.