It’s no shock to our readers that federal law – and state laws in many locales – are stuck in the dark ages with regard to marijuana possession and consumption. Even though great progress is being made, there are tens of millions of Americans living in places where even a small amount of marijuana can result in immediate arrest. Only 15 states plus the District of Columbia have passed laws that allow for full legalization of recreational marijuana – and there are still many regulations in most of these states.
Facing law enforcement on the side of the road or at your private residence can be an intimidating event, to say the least. Yet it is important to keep your wits about you and react calmly if faced with arrest for possession of marijuana.
Here are some must-do tips if you find yourself in this sticky situation.
Have a Marijuana Attorney (Beforehand)
The first course of action anybody should take when fearing arrest due to marijuana is to look up dedicated attorneys with drug and/or marijuana-specific defense experience. This is an action that should be taken before any potential arrest: a lawyer should be your first call and having a defense attorney selected prior can make an otherwise traumatic event less stressful.
Settle on a defense attorney and keep his or her card in your possession at all times. Even in states where full legalization exists, it is still possible to run afoul of the laws. For example, attorneys at Anaya McKedy specialize in unique marijuana-related cases, such as underage marijuana possession.
During an arrest, less is more: you do not want to incriminate yourself any further than may otherwise happen. As such, remaining silent during any stop or apprehension is the number one rule that defense attorneys and legal specialists will advise.
What does remaining silent consist of exactly? After all, there is some nuance (click here to learn the specifics about remaining silent).
You must inform the police officer that you will not be speaking without an attorney present. The police cannot force you to speak or answer questions without a court order (which they would only have in advance if you were a major suspect in a crime larger than simple marijuana possession). You should, however, provide proof of identity when asked.
Do Not Provide Phone Access Without a Warrant
Many people who have been arrested for marijuana possession report that police officers coerce them into unlocking their phones or mobile devices, either via threats or with promises to “go easy” on them. You should never, ever do this!
The laws governing police access to phones is patchy, but the general rule of thumb is that any phone that cannot be accessed without biometric or password-related input can only be unlocked via a warrant or court order. Many interpretations of standing laws governing police access to phones treat passcodes as testimony, which cannot be coerced. However, the matter of fingerprint scanners is less concrete.
If you’re arrested due to marijuana possession, the important thing to remember is not to panic. Before this happens, it is ideal to already have a marijuana defense attorney researched that you can enlist, but once the arrest is in progress, be sure to know and exercise your rights civilly and thoroughly.