The War on Drugs, which has killed countless individuals and thrown millions more into jail, is coming to a close.
One by one, states understand marijuana is not some nasty drug but can actually help many people relieve stress and pain -- but that still does not mean people will be allowed to smoke wherever they want.
In Colorado, smoking weed in public is still banned, as well as possessing more than 1 ounce of THC. In pretty much every state, smoking marijuana in public will lead to a fine. And while a fine is better than going to jail, losing $500 still sucks.
But that does not mean you need to be a good, little citizen and squirrel your pot away. As long as you are careful, there are ways to smoke in public. Here are some hints for smoking in public without running into some overbearing cop.
1. Remember Steinborn's rule.
A few years ago, Washington defense lawyer Jeffrey Steinborn came up with this one simple rule for a pot smoker:
Only break one law at a time.
At the end of the day, you are committing a violation by smoking pot, and you just have to accept that. You don't want to make things worse by piling other violations on top of it.
Furthermore, it is often those other violations which attract a cop's attention. How many scenarios have you heard in which a cop pulls over a car for speeding or broken taillights, only to smell pot and rip the vehicle apart in the search for drugs? That happened all the time before decriminalization and will still happen afterward.
In fact, I would flat-out recommend you not transport pot in your car if you can help it, given it is the easiest place for a cop to stop you; it is much easier for a cop to search your car without a warrant than your home.
If you do decide to transport weed, at least put it in the trunk. Don't put it in the glove compartment or just throw a bag into the back seat.
Even in places weed is decriminalized, it is still sensitive material. Don't give cops an easy chance to find it and ruin your day.
2. Don't look like a pothead.
We all know the stereotypical pot smoker. Heck, you may have met someone just like that (I know I have.) But that stereotype is dangerous for marijuana and marijuana smokers.
As long as the general public perceives pot as this useless drug taken by lazy stoners and bums, efforts to make pot socially acceptable will remain difficult.
Of course, no matter what you look like, there's no point being blatant about it. Invest in a quality vaporizer and you'll eliminate that telltale smell altogether.
Those familiar with portable vapes know it's really difficult finding one that is efficient with dry herb and works as well as a desktop vape. But, there are an increasing amount of options on the market.
Lastly, remember, how you carry yourself in public, in large part, comes down to your nonverbal communication, such as what you wear and how you look.
3. Accept when you've been caught, but know your rights.
Sometimes, you are just unlucky. Maybe the wind blew in the wrong direction and a cop picked up a whiff of marijuana. Maybe some cop had to meet his ticket quota and stopped you even when you did nothing wrong. If you are going to smoke marijuana in public, you have to accept you may get caught.
So, be sure to know the exact marijuana laws in your area. In Colorado, there are way too many people who hear, “Pot is legalized,” and assume they can smoke whenever they want and however much they want. That is not true, and you need to know the laws so you can get out of trouble.
If you do get stopped, be polite and comply with any direct orders a cop gives you, even if you have reason to believe the order is illegal. There is a good chance you can get any illegal order thrown out in court.
Finally, never give up evidence on your own volition. If you have reason to believe you could be in more legal trouble than a mere fine, then shut your mouth and don't speak until you get an attorney.