This has been updated with new information and new Supreme Court rulings. It had been neglected since 08, so it was time for a freshening up! All credit goes to VladTemplar for originally writing this.
So you want to know the state of the law eh? Then listen up.
NOTICE – Miranda has changed, scroll down to “The most important words you may ever say”
Disclaimer: This document gives legal opinions not legal advice and nothing said in this document is to be taken as advice given in counsel. These opinions are purely informational in purpose and intent and in no way create any kind of contract for legal services between you and anyone at Stoner Culture, nor any member of the website, and most assuredly not with the author of this writing. This information is never to be considered a substitute for the advice and guidance of a licensed attorney. You are responsible for your own legal future.
Table of Contents
1 – Intro
For legal advice PLEASE seek the counsel of an attorney. If you’ve been charged then this thread is too late for you and you need to get representation immediately. I highly recommend you visit NORML’s lawyer list and find a lawyer in your state to get assistance. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever in this day and age to not have the phone number of an attorney programmed into your cell phone so you can call them when you get into trouble even if you’ve never spoken to them before. Criminal defense attorneys would much rather get a call from a potential client as they’re being processed for their charge than a week before they’re supposed to appear before a judge.
When it comes to drugs and the United States you’ve pretty much got to keep one thing in mind, the law is always against you. In fact that’s just putting it nicely because the reality is that the entire system is completely stacked. Cops know they can cross the line to get that bust; judges back the cops because they’re afraid for their careers if they don’t, and the prisons…well that doesn’t even need explanation. I don’t say this stuff to scare you or create paranoia I say it because it’s the truth. If there is anything America is short of when it comes to drugs it’s the truth and quite frankly I think we all deserve some.
Some of the advice I purport herein may seem a bit over the top, but you’ve got to remember that there’s no point in me giving you half-assed advice. I’d much rather give general legal advice that met the highest standard of caution and err on the side of caution than to disseminate advice that will not place you in the best legal situation possible. You’re always at the disadvantage in our legal system and the concepts of “innocent until proven guilty” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” are extremely lofty ideals of civil liberties…the problem is that if you make it to trial most juries already assume you’re guilty and reasonable doubt is whatever gets them out for lunch, the movie, or the bar to get drunk quicker.
So what do you do? What can you as a normal everyday citizen with little to no legal training and probably not of the means to have an attorney on retainer 24/7 that you can call at 2am do? You can arm yourself not with implements of a physical kind but the implements of the mind. No matter what happens in our society the government cannot incarcerate your mind and you can fight against the laws that you so vehemently despise by becoming an educated citizen.
This thread exists to give you some general legal advice about exerting your rights and to ask questions regarding how to respond to situations or what approaches to take. Simply put if it involves the law this is the place to go.
The Most Important Words You May Ever Say – An Invocation of your 4th and 5th Amendment Rights
Other than providing my driver’s license and proof of insurance, I do not wish to provide any information until I have consulted with my attorney. If my lawyer cannot be reached, I would like a public defender. I would like to talk to my lawyer now.
If you wish to question me, or wish to obtain a waiver, I want my lawyer present. I do not want my person, car or other property to be searched. I do not want to perform any physical acts or tests. I do not want to participate in a line up, nor do I consent to being recorded.
If requested to take a breath test, I want to talk to a lawyer first. If I cannot get legal advice, I will submit to the test only if my driver’s license will otherwise be suspended or revoked. If a breath test is given, I also want an independent blood test, and I am willing to pay for this myself.
If I am under arrest, I would like to arrange to secure my property. I do not consent to any impound or inventory of my vehicle or other property, but I do waive any claim against you for theft, loss or damage if you allow me to safeguard my own property. If I am not under arrest, I want to leave. Please tell me so I may go on my way. Thank you. I’m now invoking my right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment.
What do you do if you can’t remember all of that?
Repeat the following: Officer, I’m invoking the protections of the State of [wherever you are] and the protections of the Constitution of the United States of America, specifically I’m invoking my 4th Amendment right and refusing any searches of my person or my property, and I do not consent to any tests of my sobriety except for a Breathalyzer, and if so I want a blood test afterward that I will pay for. Furthermore, I’m invoking my right to an attorney and I’d like to speak to one. With that said, I’m now invoking my right to be silent.
Do not say one more word after the word “silent.” From that point forward you are literally a deaf/mute until your attorney is talking to you. Not your parents, not your girlfriend, only your attorney. You could talk to your spouse if you wanted to, but to be honest, she could still testify if she’s pissed at you. Wait to talk to an attorney.
What to do if you absolutely can’t remember anything I just said?
Keep your mouth shut.
2 – Marijuana User Categories
Marijuana smokers come in 3 categories:
Tier 1: These smokers are your Carl Sagan’s they keep it to themselves and limit their exposure. Most of these smokers are extremely diligent about their surroundings and know full well the risks they’re taking. Most smokers in this category only consume at home, inside, and know what to do if the cops actually do show up. Smokers in this category are almost never caught. If caught the smokers in this category tend to call an attorney immediately and try to defend themselves as best as possible.
Tier 2: These are your average smokers, your typical college student if you will. Smokers in this category don’t want to get caught and will try to take precautions. Smokers in this category often have at least a passing understanding of the legal ramifications of their decision to toke. However, smokers in this category are certainly more lax about their security than smokers in the first tier. They’re the smokers that are more likely to smoke while driving, leave a roach in an ashtray of the car, or somehow do something, even if inadvertent, that will expose them. Smokers in this category do get busted, but not as much as those in the third tier, and when they do get busted they at least check out the idea of legal representation.
Tier 3: These are, for the lack of any better word, the idiots. Smokers in this category throw all caution and diligence to the wind and often couldn’t care less about taking precautions or knowing anything about the law. Smokers in this category tend to smoke whenever and however they feel like it, exposure be damned. Many smokers in this category never bother to seek legal representation when charged and many will let multiple possession charges over time just accumulate. Most attorneys that have at least a partial specialization in drugs loathe these smokers because they not only tend to always have an excuse about not paying but they also tend to fuck up while they have pending charges which nullifies whatever plea bargaining the attorney has worked towards. In general if you meet a Tier 3 smoker, you stay the fuck away from them.
3 – The Areas of Protection
I’m going to break this initial thread down into three parts descending from the most protected place to the least protected.
A) Your home
B) Your person
C) Your vehicle
A – Your home
In the eyes of the law absolutely no place gets greater protection than your home. You should consider it your castle and always remember that you have the right to consider it as one. Just like a castle can slam shut the gates and pull up the drawbridge so can you. In that sense I’m going to focus on the most specific weakness of a castle and of your home: the front door.
Gone are the days of armies laying siege to a castle we’re in the days of search warrants and SWAT teams, but if a situation arises where you’ve got a SWAT team stacked up on your front door with a breaching ram and a search warrant you’re pretty much done for so there’s no point addressing that. Thankfully unless you’re a major dealer of illicit substances you probably don’t have to worry about ever seeing the SWAT team bust through your front door what you have to worry about is called the knock and talk.
I – The knock and talk
This is a pretty basic tactic of any police officer and something officers are trained in rather exhaustively. A neighbor has called complaining of loud music, perhaps a fight, perhaps they smelled weed whatever it is the neighbor saw when the cops show up all they have are the words of an eyewitness (which is usually flimsy for a District Attorney to go on) so the cops have to do the only thing the law will allow them to do which is to walk up to your front door and knock on it.
1. Go to door
2. Look through YOUR COVERED PEEPHOLE
3. Is it the police? If yes, recover the peephole, and say nothing.
4. Be quiet till they leave.
Fact of the matter is that cops can’t enter your home without one of two things, a search warrant or an exigent circumstance. If you hear knocking at your door you’re going to do what everyone else does and walk up to the door. So you’ve done so, you’ve looked through the peephole, and viola it’s the cops. At this point the police know you’re home (unless your lights were off and they didn’t see the peephole being covered up) so you should do what everyone should do when they see someone at the door, not open it. When it comes to complaints about noise and loud parties cops love it when you open the door because it can give them some sort of probable cause. All a cop needs for probable cause is “plain sight” and they’re allowed to enter the home which lets them seize what was in “plain sight” and while doing so they’re allowed to seize anything else that’s in “plain sight”. So do yourself a favor and never give them a view into your home. If you open that door and those cops get even a whiff of marijuana or anything those cops don’t like they’re going to claim something was in “plain sight.” It may not have been, but who is that judge going to believe, the officer of the law or you? That’s what I thought.
Edit: This previous section has been amended – Please read the following
It’s becoming more and more clear that even talking to the police is a bad idea. The best thing you can do is to just never even let them know if someone’s home. A 911 call technically has to be corroborated, and even a loud party doesn’t mean anything. Just turn the music down. Be quiet. They will leave. Do not talk to them through the door. Do not open the door. Essentially even admitting you’re inside the home now is a very bad idea, especially in New Jersey. I’ve decided to amend this accordingly.
So the cops have asked you to open the door, your pulse has skyrocketed and you’re nervous, what do I do? Mr. VladTemplar told me to not open the door but it’s the fucking cops man they’re going to bust my fucking door down and bum rush like a drug bust!!!! Wrong sir, absolutely wrong. Of all the things I’ve seen I’ve never seen a cop break a doorjamb without a reason to do so.
II – The exigent circumstance? WTF is that I call shens!
This has undergone a massive change
Essentially if a police officer is at your door, claims to smell weed, knocks, and hears ANY sound…that’s grounds for an exigent circumstance and they can bash in your door to obtain evidence before you can destroy it. The US Supreme Court just dropped a new ruling (May 17, 2011) that drastically changed this law. You need to make sure no one can smell anything outside your home – please refer to my advice below.
III – A brief note on search warrants
If the cops knock on your door and you follow the above listed procedure and are told they have a search warrant, just let them bust the door in instead of surrendering your rights. They might be lying about it, and they can lie to get you to confess to a crime (vis-a-vis letting them search). So if they’re lying, the door will stay shut, because if they don’t have it and bust your door in without cause they can end up in prison. Cops really don’t want to go to prison.
The process of executing search warrants is practically on par with a military operation anymore. In fact, police house search procedures are basically a de facto copy of the methods used in the military to search buildings. I previously advised to have the officers slide the search warrant under the door so you could verify it, but that’s a long dead thing. Given the increase in ability for the police to bust through your door just because you admitted you’re home it’s inadvisable to even let them know you’re there. So if you hear them yelling about having a search warrant, just stay quiet and let them bust through the door. You may be worried about damage to the door and door frame, but cheer up, if they bust the door down it gives you a chance to get a better door that finally won’t leak air all the time.
If the police do enter your home to search it, they’re required to give you a copy of that search warrant along with an itemization of everything seized. If you’re arrested this can be obtained later. This is again kinda lofty to let happen, but if someone tries to go Training Day on you when you’ve got your front door open because it’s a nice day outside, learn the following. What you need to look for on a search warrant is pretty simple. Foremost it will most likely “look very official.” Meaning it will have a description of where is to be searched, what they’re looking for (the items to be seized), and most importantly the signature of a judge.
Edit: Above on Search Warrants has been amended.
IV – Receiving mail
If you chose to ship something illegal through the mail you must accept certain risks. Foremost is the fact that you are not alone in this attempt, and the US Postal Inspectors are well aware of the use of the USPS to move illegal products. It makes sense; you just hope that your package makes it through thanks to shear volume, and, indeed, there is a certain logic to it when sending something from yourself to a friend. Chances are you are not too worried about this, so I am going to talk to the internet-ordering crowd.
Ordering over the internet poses many risks. I have not researched this area thoroughly enough to speak exhaustively on the investigations side, but I have seen how the busts tend to go down. Often the Postal Inspectors (USPI) will have running investigations on certain sites trying to figure out their shipping methods. A retailer on the internet moves too much volume to constantly change shipping methods so the USPI will often look for packages that fit their criteria and inspect it. Every so often the USPI can get a hit, and that means it is time for delivery.
Oh yes, they deliver the package to you now. The USPI have already secured the warrant and inspected the package, now it is time to put you on the spot. What they do is have a USPI agent dress like a normal postal worker, albeit strapped and a layer of armor, to hand you your package like any other postal worker has throughout your life. Absolutely nothing will seem odd or out of place, nothing will happen at this moment.
After 10-20 minutes (depends how badly they want to make sure it goes well in court) the UPSI agents actually bust the residence. By giving time post-delivery, they have found that suspects have usually opened the packages and some have even started working with the contents. This eliminates the defense of “I didn’t know what it was and intended to return it to the post office.” They essentially catch you red-handed and you are at the mercy of the prosecution.
Not to seem overly harsh, but the reality of using the USPS for moving illegal items is that people do get caught doing it. The USPI is effective, and you can be certain they have got this all down to a refined science. If you want to take the risk it is most assuredly yours for the taking, and because of this I give you the above information so you take the proper moment of pause before hitting that ‘submit order’ button.
B – Your person
1. Stop and let the officers walk up to you, do not run.
2. Ask the officers if you’re free to leave, if not ask why you’re being detained (detainment is not the same as arrest, but your rights are still there).
3. If the cops try to search you refuse any searches, if they insist on patting you down let them (stop and frisk is legal) but immediately state you do not consent to any further searches and request to call your attorney.
4. Do not answer any questions, simply be silent. Lying, even a white lie, is something else you can be charged with.
5. Above all be courteous
So you’re strolling down the street minding your own business. You’ve got Rick Astley blaring in your headphones and before you know it you’re getting rolled by the cops (now that’s a rick roll). Your first move is to stop and let them come to you. I think it goes without saying that you never run from the cops, it’ll never work and you only make matters worse for yourself when you get caught.
Oh shit now what?
Cops can stop you on the street to question you and even pat you down for weapons. So let’s start this section by addressing the latter first.
The stop and frisk
A pat down search is by definition for weapons, but if a cop feels anything he considers even slightly suspicious in your pockets he’s going to find it, so let that be a lesson. If there’s anything you don’t want to be found then your pockets are the worst place in the world. What’s much better is any kind of bag. So your best bet if you’re walking around and you have something illicit on you is to place it inside a container. To give an idea of the legal weight of this I defer to the Supreme Court of the United States.
“For just as the most frail cottage in the kingdom is absolutely entitled to the same guarantees of privacy as the most majestic mansion, so also may a traveler who carries a toothbrush and a few articles of clothing in a paper bag or knotted scarf claim an equal right to conceal his possessions from official inspection as the sophisticated executive with the locked attaché case.” U.S. v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798, 102 S.Ct. 2157, 72 L. Ed. 2d 572 (1982).
I think that’s pretty self explanatory. Cops don’t expect you to know it though and the vast majority of cops don’t know it either. If a cop tries to search a bag you’re carrying you should immediately state that you do not consent to any searches of your items, if they search them anyways, you might get arrested but it’s something you can fight.
If cops ask you for your name, give it to them. If they ask to see some identification, give it to them. Nothing requires you to carry an ID with you on the street, but it’s a lot less hassle if you just hand them an ID card than it is to say you don’t have one. If you don’t have one they’re allowed to attempt to ascertain your identity so it’s best to just comply with the request for identification.
By and large the biggest advantage the 5th amendment gives you is the right to be silent. Pause for a moment and think about what I just said. You have the right to be SILENT. Sometimes, no almost all the time, the best thing you can do is be silent. Just about anything you say can be twisted and used against you so refusing to answer questions by silence is a great option to choose. You can’t be charged for refusing to answer a question, that’s your right.
By and large the biggest favor you can do yourself here is to be kind and courteous. Like it or not cops love to feel in control so placate their egos. It’ll work in your favor and is just one less thing you might have to deal with. Exerting your rights won’t piss the cop off and last time I checked, contempt of cop is not a chargeable offense. So long as you comply with the law you’re fine even if you are arrested.
The threat of the grand jury
Believe it or not some cops will actually threaten you with this and I didn’t even believe it till I actually saw it happen in a case. Something more educated cops will do when they start questioning you and you stay silent is threaten you by saying they’ll get a grand jury to make you talk. Well, that’s all great and grand, but a cop is not a grand jury. Hell the cop can’t even make a grand jury convene that would take the DA. If a cop threatens you with this just do your best to stifle the laughter that I would certainly have because a grand jury is a whole new ball game.
If the DA has a grand jury convene the grand jury can consider evidence against you that will force you to appear in court and testify. Notice that whole in court thing? Yeah it happens in court, with counsel present, before a judge. A cop is not a grand jury, he’s not a judge, and he’s certainly not a DA. Don’t fall for this bullshit.
Edit: The above section is edited with new information to follow
If you’re ever walking about and the police yell at you to say “hello” or something along those lines, don’t even say “hello” back. That actually starts them down the path to a legal arrest via investigative detention. This isn’t new, not by a long shot, but it’s starting to be upheld on appeals. That means it’s going to quickly become part of the various training regimens, and thus you should be aware of the new tactics they’re going to use to ensnare you.
C – Your car
1. Have your driver’s license, registration (if your state has it), and insurance verification handily accessible and NOT in a location where you’d store anything illicit.
2. Be courteous, but don’t answer questions about “do you know how fast you were going” by telling them, that’s an admission of guilt. Keep asking “How may I help you?”
3. If the cop asks to search your vehicle, refuse.
4. If the officer keeps asking questions, ask if you’re free to go.
5. If the officer tells you you’re not free to go then state, overtly, that you’re invoking the protections of the constitution of the state you’re presently in as well as the protections of the Constitution of the United States and that you’re expressly invoking your right to counsel.
6. Once you’ve invoked your right to counsel the cop can either arrest you or let you go. If the officer keeps questioning you remember this for your attorney, it goes to character/ethics of the officer. If you reply to any of those further questions, you’ve broken your protections. Keep your mouth shut.
Edit: Above was amended to reflect questioning.
NEVER CONSENT TO A STANDARDIZED FIELD SOBRIETY TEST!
A field sobriety test is a completely subjective test. Meaning the officer doesn’t think “would a reasonable person think this driver is impaired” but rather “do I, the police officer, think this person is impaired?” The difference is huge and when you willingly submit to a field sobriety test you’re submitting to their subjective inspection of your sobriety. Translation: they’re going to claim you “failed” one of the physical coordination tests. There is no field sobriety test currently available to police for marijuana (though there is a saliva test it’s still lab-based) and you can simply tell the officer you’re willing to blow on a Breathalyzer but you won’t submit to the field sobriety tests. That’s all they’ve got.
On to the car
The car is the worst place for you to have a police encounter, period. I’m one of the most careful drivers out there because I’m always paranoid of getting pulled over. The more I’ve learned about your rights in a traffic stop and the more I’ve learned about drug profiling the more careful I become. The best advice I can give you about your rights when in a car is that they’re nearly non-existent. The Supreme Court has ruled a vehicle to be a movable crime scene and in the infamous Whren decision absolutely ANY traffic infraction, essentially, is sufficient to allow an officer to pull you over and cite you for it. So let’s roll through your rights in a car.
An officer is always allowed to ask you for your driver’s license, registration, and insurance verification. These are items you should have readily available in your vehicle. You should know where they are. You should keep these in a readily accessible location that you would never consider hiding something illicit in. My insurance verification is held by a holder that’s kept in place on my visor by a garage door opener. My glove box contains nothing besides copies of the car’s maintenance work, the owner’s manual, and a disposable camera (good to have if you get in a wreck).
When the cop approaches you in your car remember the one cardinal rule, anything you say can be used against you. That cop is searching for a probable cause to search your vehicle and they’ll take anything they can get. If your car even remotely smells like marijuana you’re pretty much guaranteed the cop is going to claim probable cause and search the vehicle.
What happens after I say I don’t consent to any searches?
Flex Your Rights has made a great video breaking this down so go watch it here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXNhL2pkb0s
A brief segue into toking and driving
I know I’m going to catch some flak for this, but folks, this is the absolute dumbest thing you can do. I don’t care if you’re the best driver alive when high you’re asking to get pulled over. When you get pulled over you’re going to get searched, they’re going to find whatever you had on you, and you’re going to get arrested, period. Smoking marijuana and driving is absolutely ludicrously dumb. You wouldn’t think it smart to knock back a bottle of whiskey while driving and you shouldn’t think it smart to toke away on Mr. Spliffy either.
So Mr. VladTemplar where do I store my shit?
The trunk, above all, the fucking trunk. A trunk is a locked container that is outside your area of control in a vehicle. Cops are allowed to search within the area of control you have and so long as your trunk is outside that (hatchbacks don’t get an exemption like this) your trunk is not incident to search for probable cause. Now if you’re arrested it is, but just because they smell something funky doesn’t mean they get to search the trunk, you dig?
The best advice I can give you on a traffic stop is to be courteous but to exert your rights at the same time.
4 – Conclusion – That’s all folks!
I’m sure there’s plenty I haven’t covered above and I’m hoping there will be lots of questions. I hope even further that this tread is sticky-worthy and ends up becoming a reference section for people with legal questions. Please ask questions related to the law here and responses will come. I know I’m not the only legally-inclined person on here so I won’t be the only one giving advice. Your state laws may contradict some things I’ve said above and some of the things I’ve said above may prove to be false in the future. The state of our legal order is constantly changing and a single decision by a circuit court that presides over the area you’re in may drastically change the state of the law for that area and you. The Supreme Court could turn around tomorrow and completely nullify all the advice I’ve given above. The only constant in the law is change and the only disadvantage of our present order is that civil liberties are shrinking faster than the tits of a cheerleader who took off her pushup bra.
Stay safe people and take care of each other.
5 – Appendix A – Weed and Cleaning – Going Old Testament to keep the pigs at bay
Please read Appendix B as well – section on drug dog sniffs of apartment has been removed due to Florida v. Jardines
The costs for stupidity are incredibly high, and don’t kid yourself, leaving shit out is incredibly stupid. I’ve had good friends that I’ve lectured on this, and knowing that I’m right, they always do what I say and start cleaning up after themselves. Low and behold I’ll come back a few months later to find a bubbler, grinder, and even a jar of weed just sitting in plain view right after opening the front door. The same people that will study to make good grades, clean their houses to have a nice place to live, and even go out of their way to get exercise and live healthy lives for some reason refuse to accept the reality when it comes to using an illegal drug.
Cops love to bust you – it makes their damned day to get a drug arrest. It looks fantastic for their careers. Even if they smoked weed when they were younger they’ll laugh about arresting you for it – I know because I’ve seen it happen more times than I care to remember – and then they’ll make jokes about how they’re doing the world a favor for at least catching “the idiots.” (“Can you believe they had all that sitting out right in front of the door? Fuck those potheads are such trusting little crybabies. I thought he was going to shit himself he was so fucking scared! Goddamn I’m hungry lets go get some Jack in the Box – probably find some more stoners there!”)
Secure your home
Look just accept it and be a realist. Even if you live in a medical marijuana state, even if its got the most progressive laws in the entire country, nothing stops a federal anti-drug task force from kicking open your door and arresting you for breaking federal law. Nothing stops the local cops from providing intelligence to the DEA to do this stuff, and nothing stops them from helping the raids under the guise of “sending a message” to the local drug community that they’re just lucky they weren’t the ones caught this time.
Never, ever, leave stuff in plain sight. If you’re going to get high then make sure you put it away afterward. If you don’t own the place you live in then you need to seriously consider giving up the act of smoking cannabis entirely and take up vaporizing. Get yourself a handheld vaporizor, a vaporgenie or similar, and just stick to that until you’re in a safer place to consume.
Then get yourself a safe. It doesn’t even have to be an expensive safe or one you’re mounting to the floor or anything like that. The safe doesn’t exist to protect you from being robbed – you’d need a very expensive safe that’s bolted into a concrete floor to do that – it’s there to protect you from the place you live in. Store everything in that safe.
Develop smart habits
Look I realize sometimes people just want to kick back with friends, smoke some weed, and have a good time – but that’s a fantastic route to being caught as one of “the idiots.” If you live in any kind of multi-family dwelling and are going to have people over then you absolutely must stop smoking and switch to vaporizing. I don’t give a shit if you somehow think it’s less cool or you get less high (which is bullshit) or that the high isn’t as good (get over it). You need to realize the risks you’re taking.
Smart habits are the best route to avoiding every single problem mentioned in this thread. So lets run through an example of what I’d consider smart habits for a cannabis consumer in the United States, regardless of what state they live in.
Before I even get started don’t post a bunch of replies about how this advice costs too much money. A safe can be had for roughly $100, vacuum-tight containers can be had for $10-20 each, and cleaning supplies like rubbing alcohol and vinegar are incredibly cheap. If you’ve got the money to spend on weed then you can certainly afford to do everything I’m talking about here. Consider it an insurance policy against being human.
Treat this the same way your professor or TA did in your college chemistry lab – follow every single rule.
1. Store everything in separate vacuum-tight containers – this includes the loose bud, the vaporizor (easy if it’s a vaporgenie), and all accessories like cleaning sticks.
2. Store all cannabis-related materials in the safe. That means the above vacuum-tight containers go in the safe. That means your giant 1 liter bottle of rubbing alcohol goes in the safe – because absolutely no one besides potheads keeps a giant bottle of rubbing alcohol under their kitchen sink – it’s a dead giveaway. Also store the rock salt you’ve got to clean the bong I’ve already told you once to stop using in an apartment.
2.5 Alright so you won’t listen to me and insist on owning a bong. Then that bong had better fit inside your safe, and if it doesn’t, then get a bigger damned safe. Since obviously it won’t fit into a vacuum-tight container that means you’re going to have to clean it every single time you use it. Got a problem with that? Get over it.
3. Oh yes, cleaning. You will clean religiously – you will be Old Testament in your cleanliness. You will chose ONE spot in your ENTIRE HOME for where you will handle loose cannabis and nowhere else. This spot will not have a porous surface – glass is best. After you’ve picked your buds, ground them, and loaded them into whatever consumption method you’ve chosen you will promptly wash your hands with detergent to get the oil from your skin off (don’t complain about dry hands – hand lotion is cheaper than a drug dog sniffing something you’ve consistently touched with cannabis resin).
You will then clean everything. Obtain paper towels, apply a 50/50 mix of vinegar and alcohol (mix in a small bottle that you keep in the safe), and wipe down the outside of anything you’ve touched – that means the kitchen sink handles you just touched, the grinder, the vacuum-tight containers inside and out, and any other third containers you use. Wipe down the counter top. Wipe down the sides of the counter top. Wipe down the floor AROUND the counter top. Then rinse that paper towel thoroughly with hot water. Then, and only then, can you throw that paper towel in the trash. If you’re extra extra paranoid then use toilet paper so you can flush it.
4. ~Arguably the most important step~ Before consuming anything take everything except what you need and put it back inside the safe. Your vaporizor and lighter should be all you need out to consume – right? If it’s not enough then you can very easily go back and repeat using what you had left in your grinder – but go through EVERY step again.
5. Periodically open the safe, empty it out, and let it air out. THIS IS NOT A TIME TO GET HIGH. Just open it and clean it (and all containers within) vigorously with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and rubbing alcohol, and then let it air dry. This should be enough to catch any stoned “oops” moments that have accumulated. How often is periodically? Well like everything above it’s a matter of developing a habit. However often you buy weed sounds like a great idea – but if you buy a whole lot at once you’re going to need to develop some other rule – like every Saturday morning (but BEFORE you get high…right?)
If you do everything above you will avoid all of the problems mentioned in this thread. Since you vaporized if you stupidly open the door right after toking – which you should never do – then the most anyone will smell is burned popcorn. Even if they catch that and think it’s weed you’ll have stored everything inside a safe, which they ostensibly can’t open. Even if a drug dog comes by you’ll have routinely cleaned up everything so you won’t have consistently touched door handles with resin on your hands or anything else for that matter – and since you only handled loose cannabis in one area then you won’t have to worry about shake being on the floor for a dog to sniff if, by some absolutely shitty turn of luck, a drug dog is inside your apartment. On that same note, if the drug dog is there, then your use of vacuum-tight containers that are routinely cleaned with vinegar and rubbing alcohol will, I’m just conjecturing here but it has face validity, statistically improve your chances of getting by without being caught.
It may seem like a lot of work, but once this stuff becomes routine, then you’ll find that it’s not really work at all. If you ever deal with paranoia all of the above will become like a security blanket. Instead of that pang of fear hitting you because you thought you heard someone stop in front of your door you’ll know that they can’t smell anything because you’re vaporizing and even if they come in then your domicile is fantastically clean, doesn’t look like a stoner lives there, and is squared away in a way that would impress a drill sergeant at Weed Bootcamp. What’s more you’ll probably impress your friends who know, deep down, that they should be doing the same thing. You won’t feel like a hypocrite when you tell someone they were stupid for not putting their stuff away because you not only do it, but you do it as a matter of habit and routine. All of it will make you a smarter, sexier, and a more cultured consumer of cannabis. No one ever said using cannabis had to be about any one particular lifestyle. I do know for certain – talking to those heterosexual males who have women who, as their significant others, get on their case about acting like a pothead – that women have always appreciated me telling their boyfriends to clean their shit up. Like Chris Rock said, if men could fuck in cardboard boxes they’d never buy houses – and if you want to make a girlfriend stop fretting about weed then adopting some cleaning and security guidelines will go a long way to making her feel like the cannabis isn’t a big deal because obviously you seriously care about doing it smartly and realize there’s a legal risk with it.
Get smart about how you consume and you’ll thank me at some point. I don’t even want to tell you how many people have sent me PMs thanking me with their stories about how following my advice has quite literally saved their asses. All of the above could save your ass – and it might even get you laid more often. So give it a try – by all means it can’t hurt.
Drug Dogs – Your Home – And the World of Florida v. Jardines
So the decision has finally come down from SCOTUS that a drug dog search, if it enters the curtilage of a home, constitutes a search within the meaning of the 4th Amendment. In other words, you need probable cause and a warrant to do it. For those with single-family separate houses you can probably breathe a little easier now knowing that the police will need to get some kind of probable cause to bring that dog to your house – but don’t let that be an excuse to being lazy because they very much could still do that once they get a warrant to do so. But what about those of you living in duplexes or apartments? Well thankfully Scalis got on his soapbox.
SCOTUS in Florida v. Jardines posted:
This implicit license typically permits the visitor to approach the home by the front path, knock promptly, wait briefly to be received, and then (absent invitation to linger longer) leave. Complying with the terms of that traditional invitation does no t require fine-grained legal knowledge; it is generally managed without incident by the Nation’s Girl Scouts and trick-or-treaters. (2) Thus, a police officer not armed with a warrant may approach a home and knock, precisely because that is “no more than any private citizen might do.”
But introducing a trained police dog to explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence is something else. There is no customary invitation to do that. An invitation to engage in canine forensic investigation assuredly does not inhere in the very act of hanging a knocker.(3) To find a visitor knocking on the door is routine (even if sometimes unwelcome); to spot that same visitor exploring the front path with a metal detector, or marching his bloodhound into the garden before saying hello and asking permission, would inspire most of us to—well, call the police. The scope of a license — express or implied — is limited not only to a particular area but also to a specific purpose. Consent at a traffic stop to an officer’s checking out an anonymous tip that there is a body in the trunk does not permit the officer to rummage through the trunk for narcotics. Here, the background social norms that invite a visitor to the front door do not invite him there to conduct a search.(4)
(2) With this much, the dissent seems to agree—it would inquire into “‘the appearance of things,’” post, at 5 (opinion of ALITO,J.), what is “typical” for a visitor, ibid., what might cause “alarm” to a “resident of the premises,” ibid. , what is “expected” of “ordinary visitors,” ibid., and what would be expected from a “‘reasonably respectful citizen,’” post, at 7. These are good questions. But their answers are incompatible with the dissent’s outcome, which is presumably why the dissent does not even try to argue that it would be customary, usual, reasonable, respectful, ordinary, typical, nonalarming, etc., for a stranger to explore the curtilage of the home with trained drug dogs.
(3) The dissent insists that our argument must rest upon “the particular instrument that Detective Bartelt used to detect the odor of marijuana” — the dog. Post,at 8. It is not the dog that is the problem, but the behavior that here involved use of the dog. We think a typical person would find it “‘a cause for great alarm’” (the kind of reaction the dissent quite rightly relies upon to justify its no-night-visits rule, post,at (5) to find a stranger snooping about his front porch with or without a dog. The dissent would let the police do whatever they want by way of gathering evidence so long as they stay on the base-path, to use a baseball analogy—so long as they “stick to the path that is typically used to approach a front door, such as a paved walkway.” Ibid. From that vantage point they can presumably peer into the house through binoculars with impunity. That is not the law, as even the State concedes. See Tr. of Oral Arg.
(4) The dissent argues, citing King, that “gathering evidence — even damning evidence— is a lawful activity that falls within the scope of the license to approach.” Post, at 7. That is a false generalization. What King establishes is that it is not a Fourth Amendment search to approach the home in order to speak with the occupant, because all are invited to do that.The mere “purpose of discovering information,” post,at 8, in the course of engaging in that permitted conduct does not cause it to violate the Fourth Amendment. But no one is impliedly invited to enter the protected premises of the home in order to do nothing but conduct a search.
So what does all of that mean for those of you in multi-person dwellings? Well Scalia has probably already answered this. First this is yet another case where SCOTUS has clearly stated that the Katz “expectation of privacy” test is not “the test” but “a test” – it adds on to the possible tests of a 4th Amendment question. We would still find it entirely unreasonable for one apartment dweller to walk up to another apartment and start scoping around the door with a metal detector – or explicitly – a drug dog. So here’s where Scalia sails this thing home, and why I think it’s already been addressed by this SCOTUS opinion, since SCOTUS is clearly affirming that what one may do in the curtilage is strictly limited to what a private citizen may do – thus police officers can’t act on apartments any differently than they can act on a house. Apartments don’t generally have much curtilage though so what does that mean? There is a 2005 1st Circuit case that should be influential here
1st Circuit in United States v. Cruz Pagan posted:
In a modern urban multi-family apartment house, the area within the “curtilage” is necessarily much more limited than in the case of a rural dwelling subject to one owner’s control. In such an apartment house, a tenant’s “dwelling” cannot reasonably be said to extend beyond his own apartment and perhaps any separate areas subject to his exclusive control.
This isn’t going to really surprise anyone that it’s extremely limited – but your apartment door can arguably be considered subject to your control. You, and only you, can operate that door – no one else – it’s quite literally your door to your apartment, which means it’s not a stretch to consider it curtilage. This means that no average person could do any more to your door that the average Girl Scout could (heretoforth I hope this is called the Girl Scout test) and that means no metal detector or drug dogs for the average person, and thus not for the police. We don’t even need to consider Katz.
So, in summation, single family dwellings are resolutely saved from warrantless drug dog sniffing. Multi-family dwellings haven’t been expressly tested, but I really really doubt that SCOTUS would turn around and say that you can treat an apartment door differently than a single family dwelling door.
Nevertheless – don’t let this be an excuse to let down your guard and be stupid. Keep things clean and tidy. Make sure your door has a good seal on it (as your dad told you growing up – you’re not paying to heat/cool the whole world!) and be smart. This likely means you’re safer in apartment than you used to be, though.
P.S. – That front door with the peephole? Stick a cotton ball in there. You’ll thank me later.
Oh you made it all the way to here? Well that’s a surprise! I know this entire read is pretty heavy and can be kind of depressing so here’s a link to a children’s book on Jury Nullification where the author begs the reader to nullify any case on non-violent drug use – http://www.rmcortes.com/books/jury/Jury-Illustrated.pdf