Friday, October 23, 2009

Bong Water Illegal in Minnesota

State Supreme Court calls it a “drug mixture.”

(See Update HERE)

The lesson is clear: If you live in Minnesota, and you happen to own a bong, be sure to pour out the water after each use.

Bong water is now officially a controlled substance in Minnesota, according to a state Supreme Court ruling last week. An Associated Press report by Steve Karnowski in the Minneapolis Star Tribune said the decision “raises the threat of longer sentences for drug smokers who fail to dump the water out of their pipes.”

The decision (PDF HERE) reverses two lower court rulings, which dropped charges in a case where a search of a Minnesota home included the discovery of a glass bong with 37 grams of liquid that tested positive for methamphetamine. Rice County authorities charged the homeowner with a first-degree drug offense for possession of a “drug mixture.”

The Minnesota Supreme Court ordered the case back to Rice County District Court prosecutors. The 4-3 decision, authored by Justice G. Barry Anderson, said that the bong water was clearly a drug “mixture” and therefore subject to state drug statutes. Anderson also wrote that a narcotics officer had alleged that drug users sometimes drink or inject bong water.

Justice Paul Anderson, writing in dissent, claimed the majority decision “borders on the absurd.” Bong water as a drug mixture carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison. However, when defined as drug paraphernalia, which is conventionally the case, the offense is a misdemeanor carrying a $300 fine and no jail time.

An attorney for the woman arrested and charged in the case said that officials were treating his client, “who had two tablespoons of bong water, as if she were a major drug wholesaler.”


PMFAddictionTreatmentCenter said...

thanks for the post.
hmmm...bong water. Do you think the punishment for bong water and/or possessing a bong should be relatively the same?

Dirk Hanson said...

Yeah, I do. Admittedly, this is a weird case, with it testing positive for speed rather than just marijuana. But still. I also think pipe scrapings should be treated as part of the pipe, i.e. paraphernalia, rather than as the reason for a two-bit bust. I'm not in favor of expanding the reasons for putting people in jail for personal drug use.

Thomas C Gallagher said...

Since drugs are now in river water (search: “drugs in water supply”) and cities get their water from rivers, city water is a “mixture” of illegal drugs (no matter how diluted), according to the absurd logic of this majority of four Minnesota Supreme Court judges.

So – now that all of us living in Minnesota are criminals possessing “drug mixture” water in our homes and toilets – shall we wake up, end the abuse of government power, and repeal all laws criminalizing drugs possession?

For more discussion of this Minnesota case, and it’s excellent dissent, see my blog post:

Minnesota Court Waters Down Legal Definition of Illegal Drugs: Toilet Water Now Criminal to Possess

Dirk Hanson said...

You're right, it seems logical under the ruling that possession of toilet water or waste water would now be a drug felony as well, given the levels of prescription pharmaceuticals assayed in water supplies.

Anonymous said...

as a recovering meth addict i agree with decision. i know of many meth users that would save their bong water to be used later. a small bong with an ounce or two of water can hold several grams of meth in the water. take it from someone who has been there!!!

Anonymous said...

I would be interested in the rest of the story. What was the sentence for this "possession"? Was this a jury trial or a trial before a judge? Judges have to abide by the letter of the law for a finding of guilty/not-guilty. Juries can come up with some very strange interpretation of law.
Sentencing is a separate hearing from the finding of guilty/not-guilty. Presentencing investigation brings out past history, etc. If this individual received a very light sentence, it would give a better idea what the judge felt about the letter of the law. I suspect the original intent of the “mixture” law was to cover cutting the drugs with legal material (sugar, etc) when the dealer increases the volume for resale. The judge would have to follow the letter of the law. Judges typically have greater latitude in the sentencing phase of the judiciary procedures. An example would be Al Capone’s conviction for tax evasion. Due to intimidation of witnesses, this is what the agents could prove. Capone was sentenced the max when someone else may have simply been assessed a fine and ordered to pay the taxes.
Both sides of the debate want to hold up individual rulings as the norm to prove their case. While this person was convicted on what appears to be an obscure law, law enforcement can show cases where a major possession case resulted in probation, fines or release on minimal bonds knowing the person will never come back for trial.

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