Drug Lingo and Drug Paraphernalia

Drug Lingo: Know What to Listen for

Have you ever heard your teenager reference the time “4:20?” Many parents do not realize that 420 (pronounced "four-twenty") is a “secret code” for a time to get high. The reference to 420 presumably dates back to the 1970s stoner lingo but is still widely recognized by the youth of today. Some people have even designated April 20th as "National Pot Smokers Day."

If you hear your teenager reference 420, see that he is using the term while instant messaging with friends or has a 420 sticker on his car or backpack, call him on it. Let him know you know what he's talking about and set up a time for a longer conversation about your family’s no tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use.

Drug Paraphernalia

What are drug paraphernalia?
The term "drug paraphernalia" refers to any equipment that is used to produce, conceal and consume illicit drugs. It includes but is not limited to items such as bongs, roach clips, miniature spoons, and various types of pipes.

Under federal law the term "drug paraphernalia" means "any equipment, product or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance".


What does drug paraphernalia look like?
Identifying drug paraphernalia can be challenging because products often are marketed as though they were designed for legitimate purposes. Marijuana pipes and bongs, for example, frequently carry a misleading disclaimer indicating that they are intended to be used only with tobacco products. Recognizing drug paraphernalia often involves considering other factors such as the manner in which items are displayed for sale, descriptive materials or instructions accompanying the items, and the type of business selling the items.

The appearance of drug paraphernalia varies depending upon the manufacturer and intended purpose. Increasingly, bongs, pipes, and other paraphernalia are manufactured in bright, trendy colors and bear designs such as skulls, devils, dragons, and wizards. Manufacturers attempt to normalize drug use and make their products attractive to teenagers and young adults.

Drug Paraphernalia

Where are drug paraphernalia sold?
Drug paraphernalia can be obtained through various means. Many large manufacturers market their products over the Internet and through mail-order businesses. In addition, drug paraphernalia frequently are sold at "head shops", tobacco shops, trendy gift and novelty shops, gas stations, and convenience stores.

photo of glass bowl


Are drug paraphernalia illegal?

Yes, drug paraphernalia are illegal. The drug paraphernalia statute, U.S. Code Title 21 Section 863, makes it "unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale drug paraphernalia; to use the mail or any other facility of interstate commerce to transport drug paraphernalia; or to import or export drug paraphernalia."