Med. marijuana patients pulled over by cops talking their way into jail?
You're a medical marijuana patient, and a police officer pulls you over and says he smells pot. So you immediately show him your ID card and talk about how long it's been since you've medicated.
Smart move? Not according to ex-judge Leonard Frieling, who says this approach will likely result in a one-way ticket to jail.
As we pointed out in the profile linked above, Frieling is a former municipal court judge for the City of Lafayette who quit his job in 2007 over marijuana policy. He's now a Boulder-based criminal defense attorney, a cannabis advocate and a member of LEAP: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a national organization that backs the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, for which he and fellow LEAP rep Tony Ryan collected signatures last August.
This evening at 7 p.m. mountain time, Frieling will be conducting a live teleclass under the auspices of the Cannabis Therapy Institute about medical marijuana and DUID; for details about how to take part, click here. But as a preview, he offers the following advice: "In general, there are two ways to deal with cops. You tell them the truth, or you shut the fuck up."
And when it comes to a traffic stop involving a medical marijuana patient, he advises the latter.
According to Frieling, patients and those who use alcohol "come at this from the perspective of 'How do I get away with it?' And that's an overall losing strategy. That's planning to lose. And I'd just as soon plan to win."
With that in mind, he tells his clients, "Don't drive impaired. Don't break two laws at the same time. And don't confess," which individuals are essentially doing in the view of most police officers when they volunteer their status as a medical marijuana patient. He offers the following example.
"A cop pulls someone over and says, 'What's that I smell?' And the patient says, 'I have a license, and here's all my pot. And yes, I smoked, but it was a couple of hours ago.'"
By making this admission, Frieling maintains, the patient immediately moves the case into tricky territory. "Suddenly, we're arguing about how long it affects you -- and that's a harder argument to make."
Indeed it is, as the Colorado legislature discovered earlier this year.
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