People are becoming more and more confused regarding their legal rights, now that marijuana is legal in some states. With changes in legislature within states that have passed legalization, there are some gray areas that most people are unsure about. Even if you are living in a state that has legalized marijuana, you should read up on, and understand the laws and what you can and cannot do.
If you've been smoking pot, it's going to be pretty obvious, because it's stinky! Upon smelling it, a police officer cannot diagnose how much you have smoked, nor the amount of marijuana you have on your person. Where you have been smoking it, and how much you have on your person, can lead to problems if you don't know the law.
The laws are very clear about how much marijuana you may have in your possession. A law enforcer cannot possibly know how much you have simply by smelling the surrounding air. The police do have the power to take action against any illegal activities, but where there is no pot – there is no evidence. With the legalization of marijuana, the courts will limit the officer's ability to make arrests as well as search for said evidence.
If you live in Colorado or Washington, it's a good idea to understand the laws of those states, including the loopholes that might get you in a bind. You cannot smoke in public, must stay away from federal buildings, and cannot stow it in your car.
Laws have changed drastically in Colorado and Washington. There are other states that will probably legalize marijuana soon. Keep in mind, just because you live in Colorado does not mean you can bring grass over the state line into a state where it's illegal. Follow the laws of your state, and know when and where you have permission to smoke grass. If you choose to step outside those laws, you are pretty much on your own and can run into issues with the police.
Know Your Rights
The Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights protects you, your home, and personal possessions from being unreasonably searched, and taken by law enforcement. Warrants are only issued if there is probable cause, and must describe the place to be searched, or persons or things to be taken into custody.
The Fifth Amendment protects a citizen from intrusive law enforcement practices. In other words, if a police officer violates your rights, any evidence he or she recovered will be suppressed by the trial judge.
Should this happen, you should have an attorney that will file a motion to suppress. Even if they had a search warrant, if there was any flaw or error within their searching procedure, or where they are searching, the evidence can be thrown out.
Use Common Sense
Don't leave your medical marijuana in plain site on the passenger seat! That also goes for roach clips, marijuana cigarette wrappers, a vaporizer pen with marijuana, a pipe, etc. There will be an arrest, and a valid warrant to search the rest of your vehicle.
Stick to the Fourth Amendment
If a police officer wants to search your car, just say no! You do not have to consent to a search. If you choose to consent to a search, you have just given up your Constitutional Rights. You are no longer under the protection of the constitution, and they can search and take anything they find. If they ask to search your car, nine times out of ten, they don't have enough evidence to get a search warrant, and they truly do not want to go through the headache of getting one.
When you do not consent to a search, the officer has only two options. Either release you, or hold you and attempt to get a search warrant. That said, just because you did not consent, does not give them grounds to get a warrant or detain you. Without probable cause, a police officer will not be granted a search warrant from a judge
What Is Probable Cause?
It requires an officer to clearly explain information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime has been committed, and make the case that evidence can be found within a search.
There are some situations that will allow an officer to search without a warrant. Whether those situations are present or not, never consent to a search, or even talk to a police officer if you want to protect your constitutional rights.
Although legalization has given police officers less authority to search you, that doesn't mean they aren't going to ask to search your bag, your car, etc. Do Not Consent!
Do Not Answer Any Questions without the Presence of Your Attorney
If you are being arrested or held, you must be given your Miranda Rights. Your Miranda Rights inform you that you have the right to an attorney, and a right to remain silent. Do not answer any questions from the police or anyone else.
You have every right to ask them if you are being held or arrested, if not, you have every right to get up and leave. If they are going to arrest you, they must read you your Miranda Rights. If they don't, your attorney can get any statements you made thrown out.
Always Keep Your Cool
Never become hostile or physical, you will be arrested. Stay calm, be polite, and never give up your rights under the Constitution.
This is pretty much all the information you will need, should you get yourself in a jam. In states where marijuana is legal, law enforcement is becoming a great deal more lenient. Read up the laws that govern your state, and abide by them, you've been given a gift of legal marijuana, don't make others wish that hadn't happened.
Legal Marijuana Laws by Different States
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