What is this suspected drug thing I saw in an apartment?

My husband and I are looking into buying a small multi-unit building in my town, and did a walk-through yesterday. There were some pretty horrid things in there, since it was a foreclosure, and it appears there may have been some squatting going on.

One of the apartments had a thing in it, and we’re not sure if it’s a drug tool or not. My knowledge is limited to sugar cubes and bongs, and we’ve had no real contact with anything that has become popular in the last ten years or so, like meth, or anything crazy heavy like crack.

The apartment itself was not the worst one, just very, very messy. It had clearly been lived in, and had regular groceries in the cabinets (which were missing a few doors.) In the middle of the room, there was a table, and on the table was a open wad of foil. In the foil was black stuff that looked like charcoal.

Also on the table was a contraption that is the Thing I’m talking about - it had three cylinders of varying heights with 1/2" threaded openings on top. The cylinders were attached to a rectangular base, and were about the size of pillar candles. There was evidence of something having been burned in the threaded openings.

My first thought was “meth lab” but I don’t really know anything about meth labs. Also on the table were actual pieces of charcoal and a nice Chess Set (!). So, I’m thinking of those stories you hear about having to replace all of the drywall in a meth lab house, and I’m just curious.

Sounds like a bong to me.
Was the top cylinder totally open, so one could put their mouth in it?
There’s about 855 brazillion different shapes and configurations of bongs, but was it something along the lines of this?

For the life of me, I can’t find the one I’m looking for, but this gets the point across. Sounds like the one you were looking at didn’t have the hoses on when you saw it. IIRC, resin tends to accumulate around the areas near the hoses since there’s no water up that high, that does make it looks “burned”.

I second Joey. If the cylinders were open on top (couldn’t tell from the OP) they could have been cleaning the device. Using charcoal as a heat source is fairly common for water pipes (google “hookah”), so my guess is that’s indeed what you saw. Hash or opium could also fit the “black stuff in a wad of aluminum foil next to a smoking device” description, but I can’t imagine someone abandoning a chunk of either of those in a foreclosed apartment.

About the chess set: Back when I lived in NYC, there was a “store” on the next block that was pretty much known as a place where drug money was laundered. In the front display, they had numerous unrelated used things “for sale,” like a teddy bear, a typewriter, some canned food and a Barbie doll . . . ***and a chess set. ***A friend of mine said the people could signal each other, by the placement of the pieces.

It could be a pot vaporizer. I’m not sure what the benefits of such a device are supposed to be though or why someone would choose to use one instead of an ordinary bong. I think it’s supposed to avoid some of the byproducts of incinerating the pot at high temps that happens with an open flame. Not sure.

Yes. It’s supposed to release the THC, which has a relatively low burning temp, without burning the other stuff in the plant and releasing smoke or carcinogenic chemicals, which supposedly burn at higher temps.

Never seen a vaporizer shaped such as the device described in the OP, though. But then again, there’s lots of things I haven’t seen yet.

You can smoke meth, heroin, pills–well, just about anything, from just about anything. The physics are simple, and many objects normally used for other purposes get converted. The thing you saw probably doesn’t have any particular name, other than for what its original purpose was.

It’s a pipe.

The black stuff on the foil was left-over heroin resin, probably, assuming the people had been locked out or otherwise prevented from nabbing it.

Okay, so, let’s say we get the building, which leads to a moral question…

We have to clean that out, and if it’s something dangerous, like meth, we need to make sure it’s okay. I am sure there is some kind of county agency that can help with this.

But, if it is hash (which is what the foil stuff looked like to me) or even a hookah-like contraption with the tubes removed, then the cops are going to potentially start going after some random pot smokers, or even start harassing whoever was on the lease. I’m all for busting meth heads, but I’d hate to sic the cops on some peace-loving young kids.

The threaded bits on the top looked quite a bit like a resin-filled metal pipe, but I have no idea if heroin or crack or meth look the same. Then, there’s the concern that we won’t be able to rent out that apartment or even use the building while the cops “investigate”.

That’s weird…

What does it mean when all the pieces are in a Ziploc bag?

And is it wrong that I assume that it’s pot/hash and a bunch of crazy kids, instead of meth addicts, all based on the presence of a Chess Set? :wink:

My guess is that they played chess. I wouldn’t read into that too much.

I thought it was accepted fact that all chess players are deviants. I’d be scared. Very scared.

I wouldn’t worry too much about police activity. Even if they were dealers, it’s not like it would be tied up as a crime scene indefinitely. A meth lab on the other hand would probably be considered a toxic waste site. That would be some bad news, but I seriously doubt one could walk through a meth lab and have too much doubt about what it was - or at the very least have some quantifiable suspicion (chemical odors, laboratory glassware, jugs of solvents and reagents, one’s face melting into a puddle on the floor, etc.).

From people I’ve known who own rental properties, the big problem is getting people evicted. Some states like NJ have very strong pro-tenant laws and getting someone out can be a long and costly process.

At least here in Chicago, you can look up crime statistics for a given address and set the radius for a search. Won’t show you if the place is currently under investigation by the Feds, but it will show you if any actual drug busts have taken place there (or any other crimes, for that matter.)

As for the paraphernalia, whatever it is, honestly I’d just toss it into a Hefty bag with the other detritus left behind and toss it in the dumpster. You’re innocent here, best to keep it that way. Just clean it up and pitch it out the same way I’ve pitched the old household cleaners, shower curtain, several trash cans and something that looked suspiciously like a marital aid when we moved in to our new place. Not my stuff, not my responsibility. Into the trash it all went (although I did save the Tibetian prayer flags and a cute little hanging candleholder. Mine now!) Toss out the hash/opium/heroin/whatever as well.

It’s not crack, crack is off-white or yellowish. It’s not meth, meth is white powder or crystals in its raw form and pressed into various colored pills or filled into capsules for sale. And it’s probably not even heroin, the black stuff - black tar heroin - being very scarce outside Mexico and the southwest, and real heroin being hard to find and bloody expensive these days. Junkies don’t leave their stash behind. Hash smokers just might, if they got too stoned and forgot about it!

Meth labs are dangerous because they tend to blow up and because they can leave residues and vapors behind. Also, people cooking meth tend to dump dangerous stuff down the drain which can settle in the drains and offgass over time. The MDOH is compiling a list of former meth labs, and your local health department can tell you if your address is on the list. But, to be honest, I’m not sure why you think there was a meth lab there in the first place. A meth lab is a complicated laboratory set up, requiring at least a stove or several hotplates and lots of other equipment. A “thing” on the living room table isn’t a meth lab, whatever it is.

Take pictures next time.

. . . and be sure to notice whether the chess pieces are in exactly the same places.

Meth is not dangerous (except to those who use it). Meth labs are large, complicated laboratories that contain lots of dangerous chemicals. But it doesn’t sound like you have one of those.

Just bag up all that stuff and throw it out with all the other junk you throw out of the building.

If it’s a meth lab, you would know. That tends to include gallons of nasty, volatile chemicals. The cops could potentially declare a “meth lab” to be some kind of environmental hazard. If you decide to buy, you need to make certain that the current owner removes everything before the sale. You do not want to be the owner of a property with even small amounts of drugs in evidence. If it’s low level pot/hash stuff, you should just make certain it is long gone before you sign any paperwork.

Strange but true: if they were manufacturing drugs in the apartment there would be a strong lingering odor of pet urine. It’s impossible to miss and also impossible to remove without replacing floors and walls.

I learned this the hard way after renting an apartment. By the second day the agent just heaved a sigh and gave me back my deposit. I think she’d been through it a few times already.

Nice place too. Such a shame.

They aren’t all large, complicated laboratories. They make meth labs in motel rooms, garages, trailers, their car, etc…

When I was a prosecutor I worked on a case in which someone was charged with “selling counterfeit controlled substances.” He was trying to pass off acorn meats (shell off, obviously) as crack cocaine. Strong resemblance, too!

You’re not wrong to assume it’s some kind of ganja; however, you are mistaken to base this assumption on the presence of a chess set.

The chemicals involved in the production of speed are corrosive and, I would think, do not lend themselves to metal laboratory equipment.

But lots of tweakers play chess. Frankly, they’re not very good. No concentration. :wink: