West Virginia City Bans Possession of All Drug Paraphernalia

By John Lavitt 01/28/15

If you plan on traveling to Princeton, West Virginia, leave your bong at home.

Smoking Bong

The City of Princeton recently took the extraordinary step to ban drug paraphernalia and drug concealment novelties.

By city ordinance, Princeton has banned bongs, marijuana growing kits, and fake shaving cream cans used to conceal drugs. The new law also prohibits items that have traces of illegal drugs, such as scales and vials. Any items designed to conceal illegal drugs, like hollowed out cosmetic cases or fake cans of soda with hidden compartments, are banned as well.

Early last December, Police Chief J.W. Howell stated that enforcement of the ordinance would start at the beginning of this month on January, 1, 2015, so police officers could become familiar with the distinctions between legal devices and what is now illegal. "My officers see, almost on a daily basis, needles, crack pipes, marijuana smoking pipes, just all kinds of paraphernalia so this will be a big aid to them as well," said Howell.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that City Council approved the ordinance at the end of 2014. During a public hearing before the vote, users of electronic cigarettes or vaporizers voiced concerns about whether their devices would be criminalized. Given the detailed nature of the new law and the extent of what has been banned, such a fear is not surprising.

The new law defines paraphernalia “as any legitimate equipment, product, or material that is modified for making, using, or concealing illegal drugs such as cocaine, cocaine-based derivative, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine and includes certain pipes, smoking masks, bongs, cocaine freebase kits, marijuana grow kits, and items such as hollowed out cosmetic cases or fake pagers used to conceal illegal drugs and dealer-specific products used for preparing illegal drugs for distribution at the street level such as scales, vials, and baggies."

Possession of such paraphernalia will now constitute a misdemeanor offense.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.