Have you been lucky your whole adult, weed-smoking life in having limited contact with any from of the police? At this point in my life, I can no longer claim such good fortune, and although I can expand no further, I thought I would take this time to brush up on what you should do if you happen to find yourself on federal lands, which happens even in recreationally legal states. I learned the hard way that if you don’t do your research, and consciously remember these important parts of procedure when interacting with any police, especially on federal land and in concerns to drugs, you will have a far worse problem than simply doing as follows.
-First and most importantly, do not ever consent to a search. Make sure you state the words, the sooner the better, “I do not consent to a search.” If you do consent to a search, you are granting them legal access to all your stuff, and any contraband or illegal substances they find, they now get fair right to dig through your bags and car, which might be no good for you. Whenever they ask, “Mind if we look?” or any variation on asking to look through your things, remember to not be swayed by their authority- if they try to search you after you do not consent, they are in breach of the law.
-Authorities will start to question you in a sneaky way, by being conversational, and making it seem as though speaking to them right then and there will be more helpful than remaining as silent as possible. Answer questions briefly and quickly. If you are arrested, as soon as that mention is made, now is the time to be totally quiet. Remember in cop shows when they say “You have the right to remain silent,” as they’re making an arrest? You can plead your 5th amendment right and simply state, “I’m exercising my right to silence and request to speak to my attorney.”
-Ask if you are, “Free to go?” and as soon as they say “Yes,” walk directly away and don’t look back. Take the ticket if you are being written up, and get the relevant info, then ask, “Am I free to go?” If they have no legal grounds to detain you, the faster you can get out, the better. With whatever else you may have on you, and away from the cop who wants to ruin your day, or possibly even years of your life.
-Don’t talk about your case to anyone who isn’t your lawyer until you get your case with your attorney solidified so that you don’t accidentally create more problems for yourself. You never know who is listening or what could be said to another person in authority. Maybe that sounds paranoid, but if you’ve been in a public place, were ticketed for smoking weed, and then loudly complaining about it after the fact near police- you’re inviting more trouble to an already lousy problem.
-Too Long, Didn’t Read:
It should be noted that you can be polite without participating in your own entrapment. If a cop stops you for participating in recreational cannabis, especially on federal land, remember to say, “I do not consent to a search.” Answer questions as briefly as possible- you never have to explain anything, and if arrested, state, “I exercise my right to remain silent. I want to speak to my attorney.” And always ask at any opportunity, “Am I free to go?”
One last hot tip? They can never legally order you to not record them- so if something goes awry, announce that you are reaching in your pocked to retrieve your phone, and get them on camera. Remember, race and environment all play huge factors, so do what you can to protect yourself first and foremost.