A federal judge issued a 10-day restraining order yesterday against Maryland's tough new law banning use, sale, manufacture or possession of drug paraphernalia.
U.S. Disrict Judge Alexander Harvey issued the order in Baltimore after eight businesses specializing in drug paraphernalia filed suit contending the measure, signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Harry Hughes, is unconstitutional. After 10 days the judge could extend or dissolve the order.
Harvey's order applies only to the eight businesses that are party to the suit, but Fred Joseph, an attorney for the group, said he will ask the judge later this week to extend the order to cover all drug paraphernalia businesses in the state.
Maryland's law, overwhelmingly passed at the recent General Assembly session, bans "all equipment, products and materials of any kind" that are used for "planting, cultivating, manufacturing, storing or ingesting" any illegal drug. Among items banned are pipes, cigarette-rolling paper, scales and spoons intended for use with drugs.
The law was patterned on a model statute drawn up by the U.S. Justice Department at President Carter's request.
A person could still buy any of the items listed as drug paraphernalia without violating the law if they were intended for legal purposes. If, however, a judge determined that the owner of these items intended to use them to comsume drugs, they could be confiscated.
Sale of devices intended for drug use carries a minimum penalty of $500 for a first offense and a maximum penalty of eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine if the sale is by an adult to a minor, according to Joseph.
Joseph argues that the law is unconstitutional because it makes ordinary items such as spoons, envelopes or ballons illegal if authorities decide they are intended to contribute to drug use.
Several other states plus the Maryland countries of Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Howard have adopted similar drug paraphernalia laws. All of those laws are being contested on constitutional grounds.