Whether you have your medical cannabis card or not, being pulled over by the police with cannabis in your car might leave you feeling panicked. It’s uncomfortable. You’re wondering, ‘Am I going to jail?” First and foremost, stay calm. The jitterier you are when the officer comes to your window, the more suspicious it looks.
We’ll help you get through a run-in with police so that if it happens to you, you know what to do.
Pull Over Quickly
The first thing you want to do when you see the red and blue lights coming up behind you is pull over quickly. Try to do it as smoothly as possible. If the officer does not think that it’s a safe place, you’ll be asked to move your vehicle to a safer area.
Make sure your seatbelt is on and stays on.
Don’t Make Sudden Movements
Law enforcement will be suspicious if you’re moving around a lot in the vehicle. It looks like you’re trying to hide something. It also makes them uncomfortable and nervous – for all they know, you could have a weapon in the vehicle.
Sit still and keep your hands on the steering wheel.
Turn your Music Down or Completely Off
After you’ve put your vehicle in park, turn your music down or completely off. It makes it easier for you and the officer to hear each other. Being able to hear commands and general questions is important. It helps the entire traffic stop go smoothly.
When you are polite, the entire experience can be different. The officer will likely be polite in return. Hostility leads to arguing, being detained and perhaps being pulled out of your vehicle. Comply with the officer’s requests such as exiting your vehicle, providing the requested documents and be honest.
Admit to Having Cannabis in your Car
If the officer indicates that he or she smells cannabis (they’ll likely say weed or marijuana) and you do have it on you – say so. If you smoked in your vehicle earlier but have nothing in your vehicle at that time – say so. Tell them where it is in the vehicle.
They will ask if you have your medical cannabis card. Make sure you have it on you – just like Visa, never leave home without it. Inform the officer that you do have a medical cannabis card and do have it on you. When asked to provide it, do so without making any brash or sudden movements. Inform the officer of where the card is before reaching for it.
Yes, it may make you feel like you’ve done something wrong – but complying and being polite goes a long way.
If the officer asks how much cannabis you have on your or in the vehicle – give the best estimate possible. They will weigh it – even if you have a medical cannabis card. Part of them being diligent is making sure you don’t have more cannabis on you than you should. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but the more compliant you are, the quicker the entire process can be.
Allow the Search of your Vehicle
It’s inconvenient and your vehicle will likely be a complete mess when they’re done – but if the officer/s asks to search your vehicle, allow them to. If you have anything in your vehicle that you shouldn’t – tell them ahead of time.
You will likely be detained in handcuffs while they search your vehicle. Don’t put up a fuss about it – stay calm, it’s just temporary. You have nothing to worry about as long as you are within your possession limit and have nothing illegal in your vehicle or on you.
Answer Questions Completely
When asked questions, do your best to answer calmly and completely. Sure, you’re nervous – they understand that. It’s never fun to be pulled over – especially when you have cannabis in your vehicle or on you.
When asked when the last time you used cannabis was – be honest. Even if it was 20 minutes prior – just tell them. Law enforcement officers are educated on how to detect impaired and/or stoned drivers. Even if you’re only mildly impaired – they’ll know.
They might also ask how much cannabis you use on a daily basis. This question is likely asked because they may think that they’ll be doing a blood draw on an impaired driver, so it’d help them understand how much THC to expect in your system.
Submit to Field Sobriety Tests
Law enforcement officers know the difference between the smell of raw and smoked cannabis. They’ll know if you just smoked or just have some cannabis in your car. Don’t try to lie about it.
If you’re asked to do a field sobriety test, do it. If you are driving stoned and don’t think you can pass the test – be honest. Attempt the test anyway.
Don’t Argue at All
You may not understand or agree with why you were pulled over, that’s okay. It’s a huge inconvenience and caused you anxiety and stress. But, if the officer says that you have more cannabis on you than you should, are driving stoned or have any other violations – don’t argue. Your demeanor will be put into their report should there be a reason for you to have to go to court. The judge will see how you acted during the traffic stop.
Even if you don’t agree with the officer, just keep up with the “Yes, sir/Yes ma’am, No, Sir/No ma’am” answers and maintain your composure. It’s not something you’re going to be able to change at that moment. Sure, it’s frustrating, but do your best to keep your cool.
Should you have any derogatory comments to make – don’t say them out loud. Keep them to yourself until you are clear from the scene. Don’t display your frustration.
You may know the law and may know your rights — but on the side of the road is not the place to be arguing those rights.
Don’t Speed Off
Once you have completed all of the requests and the officer is ready to let you be on your way, put your seatbelt on and pull into your lane safely and slowly. Speeding off might lead to you being pulled over again and the second time around can be much different than the first.
It’s never part of your plants to be pulled over. It’s not pleasant. It’s inconvenient and it gets you behind. But, if you follow the tips that we have given you here, you could end up just driving home and going about your day. Being polite and calm goes a long way. It can change the outcome of a situation.
If you do end up with tickets or serious charges, make sure that you seek appropriate legal counsel. If you are a medical cannabis patient and were within your possession limits but still received a drug charge – you’ll need a good attorney regardless. The law hasn’t exactly caught up to cannabis legalization yet and some things are still unfair. It’s not fair to us as legal medical cannabis patients, but we can set a good standard for how to react and behave during traffic stops. This also helps reverse the negative stigma that’s associated with cannabis and cannabis use.