Montana NORML

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Legal Tips for Cannabis Consumers

NOTE: Don't rely on this information. Consult your lawyer.

  1. Remove and discard all unsmokable materials (such as stems and seeds) from your marijuana imemdiately upon obtaining it. This is because if you are busted, the total weight of material will be calculated.
  2. While travelling, the safest place for contraband is in an opaque container in the glove box or trunk of your car. Of course, if your license and registration is in the glove box, you may not want to open it...
  3. If you are a juror in a marijuana case, you always have the right to vote "not guilty", even if you believe the defendant has committed the alleged marijuana crime.
  4. Police may be able to search your personal household garbage without a warrant. Get rid of your stems and seeds elsewhere.
  5. If the police stop you on the street, you do not have to identify yourself as long as it is a "contact", not a "detention" or "arrest". If you are still free to go, you are not compelled to identify yourself, though use your judgement - it may be prudent to politely offer your identification.
  6. If detained and frisked, the officer may only pat or feel the outside of your clothing. He may only reach inside a pocket if he feels a hard object that he reasonably believes could be a weapon. (Courts have found that almost any hard object can be suspected as a weapon.) The search may be found illegal, though, if the officer reaches inside a pocket to remove a soft object (such as a baggy).
  7. It is not prudent to carry marijuana in the same pocket as a weapon or any hard object.
  8. You give up lots of rights by keeping marijuana in plain view, such as visible through your window or from your open front door. Keep your private items private!
  9. Keep your car in good working order. Keep your marijuana away from your driver's license and registration.
  10. Most courts have found while baggies are "distinct marijuana carrying containers", they have found that opaque envelopes are not (in addition to the added benefit of keeping the marijuana invisible). Other "safe" containers may include film canisters, opaque pill bottles, and eyeglass cases.
  11. If busted on the basis of the aroma of marijuana, your lawyer should cross examine the officer about what training he has received with respect to detecting marijuana (usually none). Also, your lawyer should try to show that marijuana aroma can linger for a long time, making its presence inadequate to show that the defendant *probably* possesses marijuana.
  12. Without exigent circumstances or consent to enter, the police may not search your house *solely* on the basis of marijuana smell.
  13. In attempting a medical necessity defense, it may help to demonstrate 1) small quantity, 2) no prior convictions, 3) marijuana was stored with and treated like other medicines, 4) evidence of attempts to obtain legal permisison to use marijuana medically, 5) no evidence of distribution, and 6) marijuana was stored securely, away from kids, etc.
  14. Do not consent to any search. If the officer asks your permission, that means you have the right to decline. Do not give up this right.
  15. Do not admit anything or confess unless your lawyer advises it.
  16. Never argue with an officer and never touch an officer.

Further reading: Richard Boire's Marijuana Law.


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