How To Deal With Police When Stopped With Medical Marijuana
Posted by Catelyn Snow | January 28 2013 | 12531 views
By Catelyn Snow
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One of the main concerns for legal marijuana growers and consumers is dealing with police. Because of the precarious legal situation of medical marijuana, being stopped while in possession of our medication can still lead to arrest.
You need to be prepared for any legal situation which may arise involving medical marijuana. Here is a general guideline to follow if you are stopped by police.
Getting Stopped -- How To Act With a Carload of Cannabis
When a cop "lights you up," pull over when it's safe and put your hands on the wheel after turning off the radio. Stay exactly like that until the officer approaches your window. When they do, stay focused and don't look around nervously.
If he or she tells you that you were speeding, you probably were. Don't make up any stupid stories (if Grandma really needed to get to the hospital immediately, she would call 911; not you), and promise to slow it down from now on.
Do not admit to anything outright, as admissions of guilt during a stop can be used against you should you end up in court. Just nod politely and hand over your paperwork when prompted. Make sure that everything is up-to-date.
If you are calm, have your paperwork in order, and you were stopped for something minor, you will likely be on your way within a few minutes.
They Want To Search My Vehicle -- Do I Have a Choice?
If police ask to search your car, they probably have what is known as Reasonable Suspicion, the legal term for when an officer thinks you might be involved in illegal activity, but there is not enough evidence to get a warrant. You have the right to refuse their search, but they'll probably do it anyway.
Why? Police don't need a warrant to search your car, like they do your home. But in refusing the search you have made your legal position known, and the officer has chosen to override you. This stuff may be important in court, should you (God forbid) end up there.
With "Reasonable Suspicion," police can search your vehicle without permission. However, they need Probable Cause (a stronger legal term; when an officer has enough evidence to arrest someone or obtain a search warrant) to search you, so if your medication is on your person, you still may get through the stop without the officer finding it.
They are allowed to quickly frisk for weapons, but not search thoroughly enough to find small quantities of medication in non-obvious locations.
The Truth Will (Probably) Set You Free
If you are a transporting plants or larger amounts of medication that will be found, this is probably the best time to disclose that you are a medical marijuana patient carrying medication. Have your ID and Doctor's Recommendation ready.
Most law enforcement officers are instructed to abide by the State's laws regarding medical MJ. If everything checks out and you are in compliance with those laws, the officer will most likely send you on your way.
(This does depend on where you are, however. Some local police are much more forgiving than others when it comes to the legal limbo of medical MJ, and certain officers will just want to ruin your day, but it is not the norm).
Always keep in mind: if you are a polite person and the officer empathizes with you, it will go a long way.
When Can They Search Me Without a Warrant?
If you are on probation or parole, you can be searched for any reason at any time. Once you have a record, you lose a lot of the freedoms that the rest of us take for granted.
Also, many states have what is known as a "stop and identify" statute; meaning that if an officer has reasonable suspicion that you might be up to no good, he or she can stop you and ask for ID. In these 24 states, a person without ID can be detained until their identity is confirmed, so get into the habit of always carrying ID.
If an officer is questioning you and you are unsure if they have reasonable suspicion, politely say "excuse me Officer, am I being detained or am I free to go?" If you can go, wish the officer a good (morning/afternoon/evening) and walk away.
Be polite, but don't extend interactions with the law when you are carrying your medical MJ. There is also a chance that they will arrest you or seize your medication (or both) and you will end up with unnecessary legal drama and without your medication.
Of course this is just a general guide, and laws vary from state to state, so make sure that you are well-versed on your state's laws, as well as any laws in your county and city that may further restrict your rights -- many cities have passed laws and zoning restrictions on medical MJ that affect the way that we must operate, and we all need to know these laws; police do.
Check back soon for our guide to home searches and dealing with the legal system. Until then, stay safe and legal!
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Thursday, 24 January 2013
Article by Catelyn Snow, on Jan. 28th 2013