Grab some snacks, because we are about to discuss HQ H282163 (Apr. 13, 2017), which addresses whether a storage case with multiple adjustable compartments and a combination lock closure is prohibited merchandise.
Why would that be the case? It might help to know that the cases go by the name "Stashlogix" and come in three modes: Go-Stash, Eco-Stash and Pro-Stash. In addition to the combination lock, other Stashlogix features include a "stash journal" to "help keep track of all those crazy names," a UV-proof jar that can be re-labeled, odor absorbing packs, and a labeling marker. The products are designed "based on the principles of functionality, security, and discretion." The company advertises that the cases are used to store valuable private items such as fire-arms and addictive pharmaceuticals.
Here is a picture of the "Pro-Stash" case:
any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance, possession of which is unlawful under this subchapter. It includes items primarily intended or designed for use in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marijuana . . . .
- instructions, oral or written, provided with the item concerning its use;
- descriptive materials accompanying the item which explain or depict its use;
- national and local advertising concerning its use;
- the manner in which the item is displayed for sale;
- whether the owner, or anyone in control of the item, is a legitimate supplier of like or related items to the community, such as a licensed distributor or dealer of tobacco products;
- direct or circumstantial evidence of the ratio of sales of the item(s) to the total sales of the business enterprise;
- the existence and scope of legitimate uses of the item in the community; and
- expert testimony concerning its use.
Given all of this, the legal question is whether the Stashlogix cases are "primarily intended for use" and "designed for use" in, among other things, concealing a controlled substance. These are to be considered objectively and with respect to the likely use of the item, not a specific or individual use. My example of the well-organized chef, does not help if the most likely use is by the Stoner Mom and her stoner ilk.
So, what is the evidence of intended use and design?
First, the odor absorbing packets are described as providing "discretion." According to Customs and Border Protection, the intent and likely use of these packets is to conceal the odor of weed.
What about the UV-proof jars? Initially, I thought the intent was to preserve the contents by blocking UV light; like putting beer in an amber or green bottle. Apparently, my weed knowledge is limited. According to Customs, the specific type of glass involved here has the capacity to absorb UV light and also X-rays. That means the jars are designed and intended to help conceal, rather than preserve, the contents.
Marketing for the bags did not help. As mentioned, they are sold along side other bags that are more explicitly for the storage of pot by retailers expressly catering to stoners. It is hard to say whether that marketing should be imputed to Stashlogix. The fact that Stoner Mom and other bloggers find the bag useful is not really direct evidence of Stashlogix's design and intent.
On the other hand, Stashlogix does not seem to have gone out of its way to break that association. Stashlogix does not explicitly say it makes and imports stash bags for stoners. It says it provides locking cases for people looking to discretely store private items. Those private items could be prescription medications, weapons, or anything else. A post on its website includes this picture: