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While we're undoubtedly the closest we've ever been to widespread legalization of cannabis, it is still illegal on a federal level. Even on a statewide scale, recreational marijuana is only legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
Since the end of prohibition appears ways away, especially when you factor in some of the recent comments of Attorney General nominee William Barr, law enforcement remains a steadfast roadblock for casual tokers. Obviously, the last thing any stoner wants is to have any interactions with police officers. But sometimes, it's an inevitability.
A lot of smokers—and people in general—tend to freeze up when they are dealing with law enforcement. This oftentimes leads to an unnecessary and unwarranted search and seizure.
There are, however, plenty of different ways one can avoid such a sticky situation. As a veteran smoker myself, I've had to deal with my fair share of police interference. Through my illustrious pot-smoking career, I've adeptly learned how to handle police requests to search you. I'd like to impart some of my wisdom on you now, so you don't find yourself in any unfortunate—not to mention generally avoidable—scenarios.
The first step could be prove to be the most difficult, especially if you're super high and freaking out—a state of mind I used to find myself in quite often in my earlier days. Staying calm is important, first and foremost, because you don't want to look like you're guilty of something. If you look like you're about to defecate your pants, there's a solid chance police will suspect you of being guilty. On the other hand, if you're aggressive, snarky, and overall uncooperative, police will look for any reason to detain you. Especially if they have reasonable cause. Just stay calm, keep your hands on the wheel, and everything should work out in your favor.
Have your license, registration, and proof of insurance.
When the police officer inevitably asks you for your license, registration, and proof of insurance, you go ahead and give that to him or her. Don't stir up any unnecessary drama, especially when you're under the influence of a technically illicit substance. The main preventative against this, of course, is to always ensure that you have the aforementioned items in the car. If you don't, you could give yourself an additional headache, and more reason for them to take you to the police station.
Now this might be the most important one of them all. Keep in mind, you have the right to remain silent. A police officer must read you your Miranda Rights if they are going to use anything you say to incriminate yourself in a courtroom, and even then, you are not required to speak until you speak to an attorney.
Having said that, you should try to be as complicit as possible when speaking to a cop. Answer questions that don't indict you in any way; but if there's something you don't feel comfortable answering, you have no obligation to.
Do not consent to a warrantless search.
Ok, actually scratch what I said in the last section, THIS IS WITHOUT A DOUBT THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF THUMB. A police officer needs a search warrant to search your vehicle. Make sure you ask them if they have one first. If they do not provide one, you can actually deny them from coming in your car, as they need consent to a search.
However, also keep in mind that they can search you or your car with reasonable cause. Meaning, if they smell marijuana or claim to have seen some, they are technically allowed to search you. The best way to prevent this is simply not carrying marijuana on you. Or at least, don't smoke weed in public/make it visible in any way. If they can't see it or smell it, they won't have probable cause, and therefore can't search you.
Another tip: Make sure you clearly say, "No," when asked to be searched. If anything, say this statement exactly as follows: "I do not consent to a warrantless search." This way, there is no mincing of words. Afterwards, simply ask if you are free to leave. Chances are, they answer will be yes.
DON'T physically resist.
If everything begins to go south after you were stopped by the police and you end up getting detained, make sure you do not physically resist. Obviously, that can just lead to a bunch of other legal issues, on top of your already pre-existing problems. Running away is another form of resistance that will only exacerbate the situation, so make sure you don't try to be slick, either.
All of this sort of goes with the whole "remain calm" thing, but I think it should be noted, nonetheless.
Call a lawyer.
So if you have already denied the police officer from searching you, your car, or your home, yet they try to arrest you, the only last-ditch effort you have is to call a lawyer.
When calling your lawyer, also keep in mind that police are not allowed to listen on to your conversation with said attorney—you are entitled to complete privacy. All in all, when learning how to handle police requests to search you, it really comes down to the knowledge of your rights and the law itself.
Hopefully, however, weed smokers won't have to deal with any of this for much longer. Even without widespread legalization, several cities and states are acting towards decriminalizing small amounts of weed. Unless you're trafficking large quantities, you might only be hit with a petty fine. Still, there are plenty of places that are behind the curve, so this is good information to have, nonetheless. After all, it's always good to avoid getting arrested due to marijuana.