Wild case could see woman jailed for decades over bong water

bong water

Nearly every state in the U.S. has legalized cannabis to some degree, and many have opted to decriminalize “drug paraphernalia” like glass pipes. Minnesota is one such place, approving adult-use marijuana reform in 2023. One year prior, Governor Tim Walz signed a bill that essentially legalized paraphernalia—even if it has drug residue on it. 

But it turns out bong water was not part of the deal.

RELATED: ‘Legal’ weed products are causing grave concern

A North Dakota woman is finding this out this hard way after being arrested and charged with felony drug possession in rural Polk County, Minnesota. As reported by the Minnesota Reformer, Jessica Beske was stopped by police for speeding, and her car was subsequently searched when officers allegedly smelled marijuana. Beske was found to have a bong, a glass jar containing a “crystal substance,” and other paraphernalia. 

The substance and the water in the bong tested positive for methamphetamine. According to Minnesota law, the eight ounces of bong water recovered from Beske’s vehicle is the same as eight ounces of actual drugs—although bong water is simply used as a filter for smoke and not for actual consumption.

The obscure law was enacted after a 2009 state Supreme Court case determined that bong water may meet the legal definition of “drug mixture.” A Minnesota State Patrol officer testified in the case that people keep the water “for future use… either drinking it or shooting it in the veins.” Once signed into law, the weight of bong water could be taken into account when determining criminal charges.

RELATED: ‘Shocking’ study reveals potential danger of common smoking accessory

Beske, whose charges also include 13.2 grams of meth for the crystal substance “in total with the packaging,” is facing 30 years in jail and a $1 million dollar fine. Even if evidence shows she only had drug residue, Minnesota law argues otherwise. And while cases like Beske’s are somewhat unusual, they do represent a need for legislators to revisit what actually constitutes paraphernalia—especially considering the public possession limit for cannabis is only two ounces.

“It’s against common sense,” Beske told the Minnesota Reformer. “It’s against everybody’s common sense.”

rachelle gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist, Emerald Cup judge, Budist critic, and editor of GreenState.com. She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter