Thanks for the reply.
I am a New York State criminal lawyer, so I can confirm that section 220.03 of the penal law is a misdemeanor drug possession charge. If there was enough residue in the meth pipe to be tested, and if that test proved positive for meth, you can be charged with drug possession for nothing more than that residue.
You would likely also be charged with possession of the paraphernalia. Marijuana possession is a different section of the law. A marijuana offense would fall under penal law section 221.
Your first court date is your arraignment. On that date, you will come before the judge. Your charges will be formally read into the court record and you will be asked how you plead.
You need to initially plead not guilty, as that is the only charge that keeps all of your rights open. From there, if you have nothing more than residue, a pipe and marijuana, the likelihood is strong that after your arraignment the judge will ask the prosecutor if he has an offer for you, and the prosecutor will reduce the charges from misdemeanors to violations, which you could dispose of with a plea if you wish to.
A criminal violation is the criminal court equivalent of a traffic ticket and it is something less than a crime. Crimes are misdemeanors and felonies in New York State. Based on the fact that this is at best a residue case, the odds of you being able to resolve this in some way favorably to yourself on your first court date and then pay a fine or get a conditional discharge (stay out of trouble for a year or the case can reopen), are very, very high. A plea to a violation will seal in a year and will drop off your US record.
Nevertheless, as you are from Canada and aren't accustomed to our system, and you may want to return to the US again under more pleasant circumstances, you need this case to be resolved correctly. It's best that you retain a New York criminal lawyer and have him with you when you show up for your court date.
If you're not sure where to find one, you can do so by contacting the New York Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service. They charge a fea of about $35 for the lawyer which includes a free initial half hour consultation. You can have that consultation over the phone so that you don't have to come in from Canada just to talk about your case and hire the lawyer.
If you don't come to court, a warrant will issue for your arrest. And while nobody is going to come get you in Canada and haul you over the border on a misdemeanor matter, you'll potentially be arrested if you ever try to come into the US. This case itself is a relatively simple matter, easily disposed of. I'd urge you to get a criminal lawyer and come in on the 20th and take care of it and get it behind you. There's no point in making a mountain out of a molehill just because it's inconvenient.
If the 20th is a particularly bad date, and you've got a lawyer, that lawyer can explain that you're in Canada with a schedule conflict and ask for another date for you so that you can appear and get rid of the case. In that way a judge would be unlikely to issue the warrant.