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Whether it's ethical or not, marijuana is still not legalized in the United States. This means that cannabis users, even those who use it for medical reasons, are not safe from arrest on a national level. Though it may be decriminalized in some states, the truth is that it only takes one wrong step to end up being in legal trouble.
In times like these, you need to know the rights you have in order to avoid being taken advantage of. You also need to use common sense if you want to stay out of jail.
Every marijuana user should know how to avoid getting arrested due to marijuana-related activities. Here are my favorite tips, as a long time cannabis activist.
Don't look like you're asking for trouble.
The best advice you can get on how to avoid getting arrested due to marijuana use is to be conservative when you do things that aren't legal. Police will naturally look for people that look like hard drug users when they are out getting their arrest quotas on.
In other words, a clean cut appearance will help you avoid arrest way more than you think. Many policemen will give a benefit of a doubt to someone who looks like a college kid trying to be "edgy" with pot — but they will not be so kind to someone who looks like they spent their lives dealing drugs in Brooklyn.
The more conservative and law-abiding you appear to be, the less likely they are to search you. It's just that simple.
Stash and use discreetly, too.
As good as looking like a lawyer will be for your chances at avoiding questions, it will not do the least bit of good if cops see you walking down the street smoking a joint next to a playground. It also won't help you avoid getting arrested due to marijuana charges if they see you walking around with a cannabis plant under your arm.
In other words, discretion is the name of the game. Keep your weed in skunk bags. Use Febreze to get rid of the stink — or better, use perfume and a long walk. Smoke in a private area that people aren't able to go near, and don't smoke in your house if you have neighbors who want you out.
If you smoke outside, smoke around a bunch of tobacco smokers so that people can't tell who's smoking the joint. Similarly, learn to stash your pot in ways that don't exactly bring attention to you.
If local laws allow you to smoke medical marijuana, keep your card and prescription on you at all times.
States where medical marijuana is legalized are a lot more lax about cannabis laws, but that doesn't mean that people aren't getting arrested due to marijuana use.
Rather, it means that you have the potential to avoid ending up in cuffs by showing police officers your medical marijuana "green card." By keeping your card and your prescription with you at all times, you're more likely to have a legal defense in your favor if cops are trying to be jerks about it.
If you're going to smoke with a crowd in public, make sure not to smoke around people that grab police attention.
Profiling is a thing in law enforcement, whether cops want to admit it or not. If they notice you around people who look gang-affiliated, they will likely begin to question you alongside them. Do not be one who literally ends up being guilty by association in the eyes of the law.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that you should never hang out in obvious crowds associated with drug usage unless there's so many of you that it wouldn't be possible for police to raid you all. This is one of the reasons why music festivals and pro-cannabis protests are safer than smoking inside a major night club.
(That being said, you shouldn't smoke during a protest anyway.)
Do not consent to any searches without a warrant.
We have this thing, it's called the Constitution. One of our basic rights is the right against unlawful search and seizure — that means police either need probable cause or a warrant to search you. If there's no probable cause, you do not have to consent to a search!
Do not let the police bully you into consenting. Tell them, flatly that you do not consent and that you want to see them come in with a warrant. They will have to comply with the law. Otherwise, if they don't comply with the warrant request, they will most likely have the court case thrown out.
They may huff, puff, and lie to you. But, don't say yes. They will be back, and you should get rid of illegal things in the meanwhile.
If they question you, don't answer anything — even if they tell you that someone else ratted you out.
You know those Miranda Rights they read in every episode of COPS? The right to remain silent is a huge one that most people do not use. That refusal to stay silent, even during interrogations, is what does most people in when they hit courts.
So, don't say anything. Keep requesting a lawyer until they give you one — or they let you go. If you feel you are being discriminated against due to race or gender orientation, get the police badge number and report it to the ACLU.
Keep a close eye on local laws.
It's often the devil in the details that cause people to be unable to avoid getting arrested due to marijuana-related activities. As a result, knowledge is power — especially when it comes to the fight against the injustice that is known as drug charges.
Learn how much weed is the minimum for "intent to distribute," learn where you're allowed to smoke medical marijuana and learn what the sentencing is for weed in your area. You may be able to plan things out so that an arrest won't impact you as much as it could.
When driving with drugs, follow the rule of two.
One of the smartest tips I ever got when it comes to learning how to avoid getting arrested due to marijuana usage. If I'm carrying pot on me while I'm traveling, I make a point of following the rule of two.
The rule of two states that you should never do TWO illegal things that could get you stopped at the same time. So, if I'm walking around with weed in my bag, I will not go out and get drunk to the point of being belligerent. If I'm driving with pot, I will not speed or take sharp turns.
It's simple, but it works wonders since it gives cops less a chance of searching you.