Driving With Cannabis: Know Your Rights
Depending on the state you live in, driving with cannabis on board may be a risky endeavor. The penalties for possessing cannabis can range from a small fine to six months in jail. Getting pulled over by law enforcement even in the legal state may have consequences, so it is smart to know your rights just in case.
You have the right to remain silent
You have a right not to speak, as long as you present your license and registration and cooperate. The officer may not like it, but you can always opt out for short answers.
You do not have to consent to a search
The best course of action is to say “Officer, I have nothing to hide, but I do not consent to any searches.” Often, officers try to convince drivers that they need to “take a quick look” in your trunk. You do not have to consent to a search — and in this case, officers will need a cause or a search warrant to proceed.
Keep your cannabis secure
To transport cannabis safely, choose a scent-proof container and keep it in a safe location in your trunk, out of sniffing distance of officers.
The smell of marijuana can be a reason for a search of your vehicle or person
In many states, the odor of cannabis remains a substantial reason for an officer to believe that a crime is being committed, thus allowing them to search your car. Keep your cannabis in a scent-proof container and avoid hotboxing (obvious, but still!).
You may ask if you are free to go at any time
If you have done nothing wrong and the officer has no reason to continue keeping you, ask politely, “Officer, am I being detained or am I free to go?”. If they have no reason to hold you, be persistent.
You have the right to ask for a lawyer
If the officer refuses to let you go, you are being detained. The first thing you should say is “I am going to remain silent, and I would like to see a lawyer.” This will protect you from further questioning by the police and give you the chance to seek legal help before proceeding. Keep a business card or phone number of a lawyer in your wallet, just in case.
This post is based on this Leafly material.
(Sweedsy in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws. To learn more, click here.)