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How to Tell If Police Are Watching Your Dealer

There are a few telltale signs that law enforcement is on to your plug. Here's how to tell if police are watching your dealer.

Illustration by Javier Zarracina

Cannabis is on the cusp of widespread legalization, but on a federal scale, it's still considered a Schedule I substance. That means the government literally classifies it on the same level as drugs like heroin and cocaine. Obviously, some states wouldn't be legalizing it on a smaller scale if that was actually true, but it still remains a factor in terms of how the law is enforced.

Marijuana's lingering Schedule I status has made the black market as prevalent as ever. If anything, the fact that it's legal in certain states has only led to cheaper black market prices, as drug dealers continue to try to undercut dispensaries to stay in business.

So if you're like me, you probably still utilize the good old fashioned drug dealer. Hey, no judgements here. I live in a weed legal state, but I still trust my guy more than I do the dispensary. Well, at least his prices.

I've been going to the same guy for years now, but he's far from my first dealer. Sadly, I've seen plenty of them busted along the way. During my illustrious pot-smoking career, I've noticed some telltale signs that my dealer was about to get busted. I don't want to see the same thing happen to you guys, so I made a list of ways as to how to tell if police are watching your dealer. It's better to nip the problem in the bud than get caught yourself, so you can thank me later.

There's always a strange car outside.

This is probably the easiest way to tell your pot dealer is under the microscope of drug enforcement. If you're going to see your drug dealer and there is always some sort of strange vehicle outside of their house, there is a good chance they are being watched. Law enforcement doesn't always play coy and sit and watch from a distance—they'll literally be right outside in an unmarked car. If you do see this, let your dealer know. You don't want to freak them out, but they'll definitely appreciate you looking out. Hey, maybe they'll even throw you a free dubsack.

He or she is getting tailed.

This idea sort of builds off of the first one. Chances are, if task forces are sitting outside your long time drug dealer's house, they're probably tailing them around town, too. Again, seeing random cars outside of their house when they're potentially doing drug deals isn't necessarily the sign of a slam-dunk drug bust, but if those cars are also following them all over the place, then you can pretty much guarantee your plug is under surveillance. As a customer, it is pretty hard to see this. Chances are, you're not with the person every day; but if they mention the possibility of something like this happening, or you just happen to go on a bunch of car rides with them, it's pretty easy to figure out for yourself. The writing is on the wall, so to speak.

Pole cameras have been set up around their house or popular drop spots.

Pole cameras are somewhat rare for local police, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen if they're looking to make drug busts. In fact, it's probably the most obvious sign that they're trying to bust your dealer. The good thing is, they're pretty easy to spot.

A pole camera is a tactical, mounted camera that police use to monitor people from a distance. They're typically around 7 to 10 feet tall, with attachments that can sometimes go up to 17 feet. They are telescopic in nature, and can be placed behind walls, fences, or anything that can adeptly cover it. If you happen to stumble across a pole camera near your dealer's house when you're on your way to buy drugs, you're probably going to want to let them know. They might want to cool it with the whole "selling pot" thing from there on out, but at least you did a good deed. Besides, there are plenty of other dealers in the sea...sort of.

They won't pick up your phone call(s).

This tell is probably the worst one. Why? Because if they're not answering, chances are, they've already been caught.

If they haven't, then they're certainly paranoid enough to not pick up the phone. Sure, weed dealers can be flaky, but if your long time dealer won't pick up for days on end, chances are, something fishy is going on. I don't know about you, but I've definitely pissed off my dealers on more then one occasion by personally spam calling them when I couldn't contact them; but on the other hand, you don't want to indict yourself by blowing up their phone like a bitter ex. Either way, this is probably a lose-lose situation, and definitely a big indicator that law enforcement might be involved.

Law enforcement actually contacts you.

Ok, I lied. This one is probably the worst sign. Typically, the police department likes to work up the chain. What this means is, they will scope out any connections to your dealer in order to get some intel. Who is in that chain? Why, you, of course. Don't worry, you're probably not in trouble, but you do have your own internal conundrum on your hands—do you snitch or lie and potentially get caught? I'm a noble pot smoker, so my choice is always the latter. But this is certainly a way how to tell if police are watching your dealer.

Dealing with law enforcement is never fun, so what is the best way to avoid all of this altogether? Just go to a dispensary in a weed legal state. Sure, it might be more expensive, but if you're dealing with all of these things, it might be worth it to just bite the bullet. And if you're a bit hesitant to buy legal weed for the first time, you might want to check out what you need to know before you head to the dispensary. Either way, it's going to be an adjustment.

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