It’s not all a bed of roses for the cannabis community in the United States right now. Sure, they’ve got it so much better than folks elsewhere when it comes to pot policy in general. But at the same time, legislation is so vague and incomplete that nobody really knows where they stand on certain issues.
One prime example being the on-going debate with regard to cannabis and driving. Things vary so significantly from one state to the next that being caught with cannabis behind the wheel can see you punished with a slap on the wrist or an extended prison sentence. The problem being that the law is still so incredibly non-specific that cops and cannabis users alike often find themselves making things up as they go along.
So for those looking to ensure they stay out of trouble where possible, here’s a quick rundown of where you stand if you get yourself pulled over:
You don’t have to say anything
First of all, don’t forget that the right to remain silent is one that can prove extremely helpful. After handing over your licence and registration as requested, you technically do not have to say a single word or answer a single question. There’s a good chance this will piss the officer off royally, but if you genuinely have nothing to hide and they have no probable cause to go on, you’re perfectly within your rights to say nothing.
You don’t have to permit a vehicle search
On the subject of probable cause, the officer/s will need either this or a search warrant to legally search your vehicle. Without either of these, they can only search your vehicle if you permit them to do so. More often than not, police officers kindly ask for trunks, backseats and bags to be opened to have a look what’s in there. But what they don’t mention is that you are under no obligation whatsoever to comply. That is, unless they have probable cause or a warrant.
Under no circumstance is it ever worth taking the risk of transporting even the smallest amount of cannabis over state lines. Even if the two states in question have the most relaxed cannabis policies in the country, you are still breaking Federal law and could find yourself in a serious amount of trouble. If you are caught with cannabis in your vehicle anywhere near a state line, be prepared to answer questions as to where you got it and where you have travelled from.
In terms of what justifies probable cause, a police officer only needs to smell the slightest hint of cannabis in your car to justify a compulsory vehicle search. For obvious reasons therefore, the best advice is to ensure that your car doesn’t smell of cannabis and that any pot you carry is comprehensively sealed away. This is of course a highly contentious issue, given the way in which they could easily say your car stinks to high heaven, when in fact they don’t smell a damn thing.
Your right to release
Last but not least, if you haven’t done anything wrong and there’s no probable cause to speak of, you are totally within your rights to ask the officer if you can leave. They only have the legal right to detain you with just cause for doing so. Which means that if they don’t find any, they have no right whatsoever to waste your time. So if you are confident you are in the clear but feel as if they are taking liberties, feel free to ask whether you are being officially detained and for what reason. If they can’t give one, you are free to go.
If you want to reduce the risk of getting busted check out this article.