There are many complexities when it comes to drug charges. The type of drug, the quantity of the drug, and various other factors are all taken into consideration when charges are filed. Small amounts are typically called "simple" possession, while large qualities may lead to significant penalties, as authorities may assume or suspect you "possessed with the intent to distribute."
In addition, paraphernalia such as crack pipes or syringes may be illegal as well. This can lead to some gray areas though, as bongs and pipes are not necessarily illegal. In some cases, authorities can only prove the paraphernalia is used when drug residue is found. Equipment and chemicals often used for the manufacturing or cultivation of drugs can also lead to charges. To be charged with possession with the intent to distribute, other items such as scales, baggies, large amounts of cash and witness testimonies may also be used against the accused.
To further complicate all these drug charge factors, some areas of the United States such as Colorado, Washington, and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational drug use, and many states have drug use legal for medicinal purposes. It is still illegal under federal law, though it may not necessarily be enforced.
Being charged with drug possession is a serious offense and can lead to lifelong consequences for the accused. It is important to understand your rights and how the drug laws work in order to develop a sound defense to try to get the drug charges dismissed or lessened.
Source: findlaw.com, "Drug Possession Overview," Accessed Sept. 8, 2015