Updated May 23, 2020
18-18-428 CRS is the Colorado statute that makes it a class 2 petty offense to keep in your possession items that you know or reasonably should know can be used as illegal drug paraphernalia. The penalty for a conviction is a fine of up to $100.
Drug paraphernalia includes (but is not limited to):
- Hypodermic needles or syringes,
- Meth pipes,
- Coke spoons and vials,
- Purity analyzers,
- Separation gins and snifters,
- Blenders, bowls, containers, spoons, and mixing devices,
- Drug containers, and
- Any other equipment, products, and materials used, intended for use, or designed for use in 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 a controlled substance in violation of Colorado drug laws.1
In other words, pretty much anything counts as drug paraphernalia if the cops and prosecutor can prove you used it to help you store, use, or process drugs in any way.
Also see our article on the Colorado crime of advertising drug paraphernalia.
Drug paraphernalia does not include marijuana accessories
Colorado 18-18-428 C.R.S. specifically excludes “marijuana accessories” from the definition of drug paraphernalia.
The Colorado constitution defines “marijuana accessories” as “equipment, products, or materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, composting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, vaporizing, or containing marijuana, or for ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marijuana into the human body.”2
Special laws relating to hypodermic needles
You may be asked if you are in possession of a hypodermic needle or syringe prior to:
- A search of your person, premises, or vehicle by a peace officer, or
- Treatment by an emergency medical technician or other first responder.
Provided you disclose your possession of a needle or needles prior to the search, assessment, or treatment, you cannot be charged with:
- Possession of drug paraphernalia under Colorado 18-18-428 C.R.S., or
- Unlawful possession of a controlled substance under 18-18-403.5 C.R.S. for any minuscule, residual controlled substance that may be present in a used hypodermic needle or syringe.
Defenses to possession of drug paraphernalia
It may seem like possession of drug paraphernalia is an open-and-shut case. However, there are a number of defenses to drug paraphernalia charges including (without limitation):
- The drug paraphernalia wasn’t yours,
- You didn’t know you possessed the drug paraphernalia,
- You didn’t know that what you possessed could be used in a way that violated Colorado drug laws,
- You were found with a hypodermic needle but you disclosed its existence to an officer or EMT before he or she searched you, or
- The paraphernalia was discovered during an illegal search and seizure that violated your Fourth Amendment rights.
You are also immune from arrest and prosecution for possession of drug paraphernalia under 18-18-428 C.R.S if you are in good faith reporting an emergency drug or alcohol overdose event to a law enforcement officer, to the 911 system, or to a medical provider.
To quality for this immunity, however, you must:
- Remain at the scene until a law enforcement officer or an emergency medical responder arrives, and
- Identify yourself to, and cooperate with, any law enforcement officer, emergency medical responder, or medical provider.
Call us for help…
If you or someone you know has been accused of possessing drug paraphernalia or any other Colorado drug crime, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
Our compassionate Colorado criminal defense lawyers know that people who are accused of violating Colorado drug possession or sales laws are often innocent – or what they really need is help, not punishment as a criminal.
To reach one of our experienced Colorado drug lawyers, use this the confidential form on this page. Or call us at our Denver home office, conveniently located at:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver CO 80211
- 18-18-426 (1) C.R.S.
- C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 18, Section 16 (g).