Say that you’re hanging out somewhere, like a hiking trail or in your car, and you happen to have weed on you. Not necessarily smoking it but you definitely have enough on you that you could get in trouble for it. With marijuana arrests accounting for half of all drug arrests (with 88% being simple possession), it’s super important to know what to do when you’re confronted by a police officer and you happen to have bud on you. There are four common ways that the police can trick you in to incriminating yourself when it comes to marijuana possession.
Something that’s really important to remember is how you appear as well. Even though the police are supposed to treat all citizens the same, there are clear statistics that prove otherwise. Mostly, police will treat people differently on race. According to a study done at ACLU, African Americans are almost four times as likely as white to be arrested for marijuana possession. Other reports have found that law enforcement officers kill at least one African American every 28 hours. Additionally, police look down upon people who have body modifications, car modifications, or seem to have a sour attitude when confronted.
Never give an officer reasonable suspicion by talking too much. If you start to ramble, the police will tend to take more interest in you. Rambling is a sign of lying. If you begin to stutter and stumble over your words in the middle of a rant about where you’re going, who you’re going to see, and where you’re coming from, the police can decide to search you, find your weed, and arrest you. The best way to avoid such a situation? If you are stopped by an officer, simply ask “Officer, are you detaining me or am I free to go?” Most of the time, if you have done nothing worthy of arrest, the officer will let you go. If they continue to badger you, simply repeat the question in an even tone of voice until the officer lets up. On the chance that the officer says you’re under arrest, tell them that you are going to remain silent and that you would like to see your lawyer. Never run from the police or trash talk a cop. They will absolutely use that against you.
Don’t give the cops consent to search your person. You can say no to a search. “The most powerful trick police use to make marijuana arrests on the street is to ask citizens to empty their pockets. Of course, this ‘ask’ generally sounds like a command when the police shout, ‘What’s in your pockets? What you got?'”, Says Flex Your Rights, a company dedicated to letting people know their rights. Most people will automatically comply to this demand regardless of what they have on them, simply because they’re intimidated or confused. “Unless police feel a hard item during a pat down, they are not legally allowed to reach in to your pockets.” The right to refuse a search is in the Fourth Amendment, guarding against unreasonable searches and seizures by the state. “If the police say that they have a search warrant, ask to see it. If they don’t, say ‘I do not consent to this search’,” advises New York City Civil Liberties Union website. There is a chance that an officer may still search you illegally and you can protect that right if you go to court.
Same goes for your car. The police cannot search your vehicle without your consent or a warrant. They can order you to get out of the car, which you should do so. But they cannot search the vehicle. Police may make false threats about what might happen if you don’t let them search but don’t believe them. “Beware that police can legally lie to you, so never let false threats or promises trick you in to waving your rights,” says Judge William Murphy, a civil liberties advocate. If the cop has no reasonable suspicion and no warrant, ask them if you are free to go. If the officer gets violent in this situation, be sure to keep calm and assert that you are lawfully guaranteed the right to refuse an unlawful search.
Without a warrant, you don’t even have to open your door to talk to the police. No matter how many times they knock, you can just leave them out there. Just tell them no. Seeing as how you wouldn’t let a stranger in to your home, you shouldn’t let the cops in. You don’t know them. It’s your right. The most common way cops can get you to allow a search is say that they smell marijuana. In this case, you can only say one thing. “Officer, I have nothing to hide but I do not consent to any searches.” If the cops continue to search and find something, you’re definitely going to need a lawyer. In this case, it’s your word against theirs when it comes to the smell of cannabis and the best thing that you can do is to stay calm.