The legalization of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes is growing in a number of states. But despite that growing number, the possession, use, and distribution of the drug is still illegal in many states, making users of the drug vulnerable to arrest.
Law enforcement of several states take this law very seriously and if you are arrested for any charges related to the possession, use, or distribution of the drug, it can result in hefty fines, potential jail time, and a criminal record. If you’re going to have any type of involvement with the drug, it’s important to have a full and complete understanding of the legal implications that come with it.
The Federal Marijuana Laws and What It Means For You
Under federal law, the Controlled Substances Act, the use, possession, growing, and distribution of marijuana is illegal. However, in recent years, many states have passed laws legalizing the drug for medicinal and recreational purposes.
But it’s also important to know that if there is ever any conflict or disconnect between federal and state laws, given a particular legal situation, federal law will always prove superior.
That means that even if you live in a state where possessing, growing, using, and distributing marijuana is legal, you still have the potential to be prosecuted under federal law. And, if a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion that you’re involved in a crime, they can detain you as well.
With the federal law in place, it’s important that you understand your rights as it pertains to marijuana possession, use, and distribution of the drug. A criminal lawyer can help you understand your rights and represent you in the court of law should you face any type of criminal charges involving marijuana.
Even if you’re not facing any type of criminal charges involving marijuana, it’s important to understand your rights if you know you’re going to be involved with marijuana in any way.
What States Have Legalized Marijuana?
There are several states that have legalized marijuana but the legalization is broken down into two categories: Legalized for recreational and medicinal purposes and Legalized for medicinal purposes only.
States That Have Legalized Marijuana For Recreational and Medicinal Purposes
States That Have Legalized Marijuana For Medicinal Purposes Only (number has risen to 31)
From the list of states where marijuana is legal only for medicinal purposes, there are lots of states fighting to get legalization for recreational use as well. New York is a state that’s on the rise for legalizing the drug for recreational purposes. According to The New York Times, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo states that marijuana will indeed be legalized in 2020.
Could New York marijuana legalization prove to be a step in the right direction towards racial disparities in marijuana arrests? Possibly; only time will tell. But a big part in how arrests are handled, whether you live in a state where marijuana is legal for both recreational and medicinal purposes or for medicinal purposes only, is by knowing how to prevent getting arrested.
How to Prevent Encounters With Law Enforcement
The key to preventing encounters with law enforcement is to use common sense. Whether you live in a state where the possession, use, or distribution of marijuana is for medicinal purposes only or for medicinal and recreational purposes, use common sense in your consumption. Remember, you can be detained if a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion that you’re involved in a crime.
Maintain Good Relationships With Your Neighbors
A common mishap between marijuana users and law enforcement is neighbors. Neighbors may be unaware of your medicinal needs of the drug and may either confront you about it or report you to the police if they feel your use is violating their safety or becoming a nuisance to them.
Always be polite to your neighbors and respect their property. When people make complaints about noise nuisances, barking dogs, violence in the home, or any other disturbances, police are required to investigate these complaints by paying a visit to the source of the complaint. In responding to the complaints, you don’t want to give officers any reason to conduct a search of your home.
With that, you want to always be respectful of your neighbors in every way you can. They may not agree with your reasons for using the drug but they’re more likely to respect your right to possess the drug if your use doesn’t disrupt their daily life.
Be Discrete When Traveling
Most marijuana possession charges stem from standard traffic stops, so if you have to travel with marijuana, you first want to make sure there is nothing visibly wrong with your vehicle to cause a traffic stop.
For example, make sure your tags are current, no broken head or tail lights, and make sure that if you have tinted windows that your tint percentage doesn’t exceed your state’s law. Also, follow all rules of the road. No “California Rolls” when driving, no speeding or running red lights, or illegal U-turns, etc.
You also don’t want to drive under the influence of the drug, and if you have to drive with it, due to medical orders to be taken at certain times of the day, keep it concealed in the trunk of your car. Regardless of the type of legalization your state may have, you want to always abide by the law and never drive under the influence of alcohol or any type of drug, for your safety and the safety of others.
Utilize Marijuana Sensibly
Using marijuana sensibly is so important. When the drug is abused, it can lead to jail time loss of SSDI benefits, and steep financial penalties… it can even affect your livelihood and your future of finding places to live. Lots of employers and rental properties/apartment complexes conduct criminal background checks, and if they see that you have a possession charge on your record, they’re less likely to hire you or rent to you.
Using marijuana sensibly means distinguishing the amount of marijuana that’s right for you, following the doctor’s dosage orders, understanding the potential side effects, and keeping a copy of your doctor’s permission/ID card on you.
When you use the drug responsibly, whether recreationally or medically, you’re going to avoid potential run-ins with the law. But also remember that if anything does happen, you have the right to having a lawyer represent you in the court of law. Make it a point to know and understand your rights as a citizen, especially pertaining to the marijuana laws in your state.