Apr 112012
 

under arrestHow not to become a statistic in our nation’s enormous, expensive war on marijuana

By Scott Morgan

Each year, close to a million Americans are arrested for possessing marijuana, and many millions more are targeted and searched by police on suspicion of being a marijuana user. It’s an incredible waste of limited law enforcement resources, and the experience of being harassed, arrested, and slapped with a criminal record isn’t exactly getting rave reviews from anyone either. Heck, even cops are getting sick of this idiocy.

I’ve spent several years teaching the public how to deal with police. I’ve heard more than my share of horror stories from people who froze up when confronted by the cops and soon found themselves in the back of a squad car. When that happens, chances are it wasn’t because they hurt someone, but rather, because they possessed a small amount of marijuana.

Now that half the nation is in favor of legalizing marijuana, there is hope that we’ll soon see a day when none of us are placed in handcuffs for having a little pot in our pockets. But until then, those who use marijuana —- whether to treat an illness, or simply as part of a healthy lifestyle —- should have a plan prepared just in case they find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The following tips are designed to help responsible adults avoid becoming statistics in our nation’s enormous, expensive and embarrassing war on marijuana.

1. Don’t Consent to Searches

This is a pretty straightforward concept, but a lot of people get hung up on worrying how the officer will react. Don’t. Just be cool and keep in mind that agreeing to a search will automatically lead to your arrest if you’re in possession of marijuana. Refusing will often prevent the search, but even it doesn’t, you’ll have a better chance of winning the case once you get to court.

2. Don’t Let Them Into Your House

If you enjoy marijuana, then you probably don’t want police officers coming inside your house. Unfortunately, cops are quite good at convincing you to let them in. They might make it sound like you don’t have a choice, or simply try to convince you they’re not looking to get anyone in trouble. Whatever they say, your answer should stay the same: No. Unless they have a search warrant, they can’t come in without your permission. Your best move is to politely explain that you’re not letting anyone in without a warrant.

3. Ask if You’re Free to Go

The longer your police encounter lasts, the greater the risk of something going wrong. If you refuse a search, officers will often say, “okay, wait here,” or they might even threaten to “call in the dogs.” What they won’t tell you is that they may not actually have any legal authority to make you stay. Police need evidence (reasonable suspicion) to justify detaining you, and refusing a search doesn’t count.

If you don’t feel like hanging out with the cops, ask if you’re free to go. If they say “yes,” leave immediately. If they say “no,” then you’re being detained and they will need to prove in court that they had a legal reason to detain you. Even if they search you and find marijuana, the fact that you asked to leave before the search will improve your chances in court, because any evidence found during an illegal detention is not admissible. The legal concepts here get a bit complicated, but just remember that after you refuse a search you should also ask if you can leave.

Cop With Weed4. Don’t Do Dumb Stuff in Public

When the temptation to put fun before common sense takes over, the consequences can be quick and vicious. Knowing your rights can increase your odds of avoiding trouble, but if officers actually observe you committing a crime, the only tip I can give you is to call a good lawyer. If police see, smell, or hear evidence of criminal activity, that’s all the grounds they need to search and arrest you.

Remember that good herb reeks, literally spilling a cloud of probable cause in every direction. Lighting up in cars, parks, dorms and other exposed areas is just asking for trouble. Some regions are more lenient than others, but don’t push your luck, and don’t assume it’s okay just because you see others doing it. I’ve seen people get popped for pot in Berkeley of all places, so remember there are no drug-war-free zones in America yet. Be cool, and watch your back.

5. Don’t Snitch on Yourself

It’s tempting to think that honesty will win you some points with police. Heck, they’ll even promise to cut you a break in exchange for a straight answer. But coming clean is a mistake you’ll regret seconds later when they order you to put your hands behind your back. Most people don’t think pot is a big deal, so it’s easy for the cops to convince you they don’t care about it either. But it’s their job to bust you for pot, and they’re allowed to lie if necessary to trick you into cooperating. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t ask.

If police are asking you incriminating questions, just politely tell them you choose to remain silent until you’ve spoken with a lawyer.

This is the most helpful advice I can give for protecting yourself from the tricks police use to bust millions of Americans for marijuana. But remember that knowing your rights and watching your back will only get you so far. Escaping unscathed from a scary police encounter also requires controlling your emotions and remaining calm and cool.

Maintaining a relaxed attitude is the key to pulling off tactics such as refusing searches, asking if you’re free to go, and declining to answer incriminating questions. Even if you do everything right, there’s still a chance you’ll end up in court fighting for your freedom, but your odds of winning will be far greater if you’ve calmly asserted your rights throughout the encounter.

I’d like to hear any strategies I might have missed. What’s your favorite tip for preventing a pot bust?

Remember that good herb reeks, literally spilling a cloud of probable cause in every direction. Lighting up in cars, parks, dorms and other exposed areas is just asking for trouble. Some regions are more lenient than others, but don’t push your luck, and don’t assume it’s okay just because you see others doing it. I’ve seen people get popped for pot in Berkeley of all places, so remember there are no drug-war-free zones in America yet. Be cool, and watch your back.

5. Don’t Snitch on Yourself

It’s tempting to think that honesty will win you some points with police. Heck, they’ll even promise to cut you a break in exchange for a straight answer. But coming clean is a mistake you’ll regret seconds later when they order you to put your hands behind your back. Most people don’t think pot is a big deal, so it’s easy for the cops to convince you they don’t care about it either. But it’s their job to bust you for pot, and they’re allowed to lie if necessary to trick you into cooperating. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t ask.

If police are asking you incriminating questions, just politely tell them you choose to remain silent until you’ve spoken with a lawyer.

This is the most helpful advice I can give for protecting yourself from the tricks police use to bust millions of Americans for marijuana. But remember that knowing your rights and watching your back will only get you so far. Escaping unscathed from a scary police encounter also requires controlling your emotions and remaining calm and cool.

Maintaining a relaxed attitude is the key to pulling off tactics such as refusing searches, asking if you’re free to go, and declining to answer incriminating questions. Even if you do everything right, there’s still a chance you’ll end up in court fighting for your freedom, but your odds of winning will be far greater if you’ve calmly asserted your rights throughout the encounter.

I’d like to hear any strategies I might have missed. What’s your favorite tip for preventing a pot bust?

Article from Alternet and republished with special permission

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About Jay Smoker

I have been smoking marijuana for almost twenty years and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. My life was turned upside down in 2009 after getting arrested and tossed in jail for being in the wrong state with legal medical marijuana. I got fed up, and I now devote all my time to ending this insanity.I am responsible for the technical side of this project, but try to chip in when I can, either with syndicated articles or original content.Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Digg and feel free to email. any questions or concerns. Peace!
  • Ignutz_oofmeyer

    just like a stoner.  post a point (5)  wait a minute, forget you posted it and post it again. Â

  • LittleAsian

    Wait, what if you refused a search of your car and while on the phone with your dad to come help the situation (I was 16 at the time), they have a dog sniff all around the outside of your car. Is that legal?

    • Second Class Citizen

      Yes, but your rights do not disappear just because they call in the dogs. Once you refuse a search, anything found can not be used against you. Your lawyer will file what is called a motion to suppress, or throw out the evidence. If he had to ask and you say no, that right there makes anything they find not legal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/garydonoliver Gary Don Oliver

    In Oregon, it doesn’t matter what you say, the cops will lie in court.  You better get the whole thing recorded.  In my experience the worst criminals in our degenerating economy are the cops.  These days cops are hired to make a profit for the government, any way they can, and get rid of those that don’t produce for the government.  All governments have become the Godzilla of old Japanese movies. Cops don’t need to use phony radar guns in Oregon to steal from a motorist.  They just completely fabricate a charge then commit perjury in court.  The conspiring judge will make sure there were no witnesses in the vehicle before their complicity in the theft.  It doesn’t even matter that a charge completely violates the laws of physics. Oregon cops will issue a completely bogus traffic cite, then commit perjury with the most ridiculous impossible lies in court and the judges convict anyway, as if it were a conspiracy.  It doesn’t matter if it is traffic or pot.  I know. It happened to me in Oregon.  IN OREGON, DON’T DRIVE IN YOUR VEHICLE ALONE.  If you want to know why, read the posts on: facebook.com/garydonoliver.   That is the reason cops don’t want to be filmed.  It cuts into their take from theft, and exposes their level of insanity.

  • J.M.

    This article is definitely informative. But If they just made marijuania legal then we would have to find loopholes in laws .

  • 3ddave

    When I think of the vast amount of money being spent on marijuana inyerdiction alone,I get nauseous.With the billions,possibly trillions spent on it,from the time the cop flips on the disco lights,through the booking process,taking up jail space,the court time,the court costs,attorney fees,the newly minted “criminal,will likely lose their job,play hell finding a new one,because of their new title of   =CONVICT!=, so that increases lose to govt,of income taxes,and will likely lead to the newly minted =CONVICT= turning to some govt program to obtain employment,help wiith food money,assistance with housing..Tell me when the absurdity can stop..When all the while, cannabis could be made legal,cultivated,grown,processed,quality controlled,packaged,taxed and sold.I think a fair price would be 20 cannabis cigarettes for about the same price as a 12 pk of premium beer.It would provide jobs,save and enhance law enforcement/govt targeting drugs like cocaine,Meth,etc,Take the money out of the Mexican cartels,at least fr cannabis, It would also have a minor impact on domestic violence,and the money it costs tax payers. I’ve never seen a couple get high and proceed to beat hell out of each other.,Lastly,legalization does not mean millions of new pot heads ,as with alcohol,legal,but not everyone drinks,well,not everyone would smoke.Its the year 2012, “Reffer Madness” from 1938 was a joke,marijuana has not had the dreaded effect of demotivating people to lay around stoned all the time.America needs to return to being a progresive nation,not the one thats been stuck in the mud for 8 years now.The time has come.

  • Highallday

    This article is great information. The only other thing I’d suggest is going to GonzoBags.com and picking up the bags there so you could conseal the scent of your pot while you aren’t using it or if you need too send out a package via mail. They work great and give you that extra barrier of defense to stay safe.

  • Tevin Harris

    This didn’t tail me ways to avoid the cops who ever post this should be shot

  • Hofosky

    its all about money, someone gets a little richer everytime someone is jailed for a bit of pot, all your prisons are privatised. its just not right…

  • Hillwiz1

    write “For Medical Use Only” un your container. This will indiccate intent. When your state goes legal it is a way.to expunge the charge.