Marijuana Grinders are not Paraphernalia in Iowa

Iowa Code section 124.414 defines “drug paraphernalia” as “all equipment, products, or materials of any kind used or attempted to be used in combination with a controlled substance . . . to knowingly or intentionally and primarily do any of the following:”

  1. Manufacture a controlled substance;
  2. Inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance;
  3. Test the strength, effectiveness, or purity of a controlled substance; or
  4. Enhance the effect of a controlled substance.

Usually, the question regarding whether an item qualifies as drug paraphernalia under the statute focuses on subpart (2) and the item’s utility for introducing, for example, marijuana into the body.  Pipes, bongs and Zig-zag rolling papers are classic examples of drug paraphernalia under Iowa law.

What about grinders that are used to grate marijuana flower into smaller pieces for easier consumption? Are grinders drug paraphernalia under section 124.414?  If so, then the plain view observation of a grinder could be used to justify a probable cause search of the vehicle.

There is a critically important distinction to be made between grinders and other marijuana smoking accessories.  The code clearly differentiates between the possession of a item that can be used to prepare a controlled substance for consumption and one that is used to introduce the same into the human body.  A grinder is not used to introduce marijuana into the body.  Rather it is used to prepare marijuana for ingestion by some other means.  That being said, some local municipal ordinances embrace a more expansive definition of drug paraphernalia so things may be different depending on whether the citation is written under city or state law.  But as far as section 124.414 is concerned, a grinder is not drug paraphernalia.

The drug defense attorneys at GRL Law understand the nuances involved with the paraphernalia statute.  Not every item associated with marijuana use is illegal under Iowa law.  We fight probable cause searches based solely on the plain view observation of a grinder.  And under no circumstances do our clients admit to possessing drug paraphernalia under state law where the marijuana grinder is the state’s only evidence.