Across practices, we are seeing the internet turn into a menace for businesses dealing with law enforcement and regulatory agencies. Risks are present for entities of all stripes, but cannabis businesses in particular need to beware of the Internet and what it says about them.
If the Internet says so, it must be drug paraphernalia
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), certain acts involving drug paraphernalia are prohibited, including their import and export. 21 U.S.C. § 863(a). The CSA’s definition of drug paraphernalia is expansive and highly subjective. This creates a fraught situation from a legal standpoint, as an imported product’s legality may hinge not on its immutable characteristics, but rather on subjective factors.
Take a water pipe made in Jordan. If the importer of that product is a company that sources Middle Eastern products, including flavored tobacco, and refers to the pipes as shisha or argileh on its website, they are unlikely to face issues upon entry into the United States on drug paraphernalia grounds.
On the other hand, if the importer calls the product a water bong and alludes to cannabis on its advertising, there is a good chance the products will be seized as drug paraphernalia.