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Fargo woman facing 30 years in prison, $1 million fine for bong water possession in Minnesota

Last year the Legislature decriminalized drug paraphernalia, even if it contains drug residue. The change represented a step back from the drug war tactics of previous decades, with an eye toward treating substance abuse as a public health problem, rather than a criminal justice concern.

But one obscure relic of the war on drug paraphernalia got overlooked, and was not included in the decriminalization bill: a provision in state law that treats bong water - the water at the bottom of a smoking device, used to cool and purify the intoxicating smoke - as a controlled substance, no different than the uncut version of whatever illicit drug the bong was used to smoke.

People don't consume bong water, but some prosecutors still use it as evidence to charge drug defendants with more serious crimes than they otherwise would be eligible for.


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