Don’t talk your way into a conviction.
That, in a nutshell, is the advice that Southern California attorneys Marc and Craig Wasserman have been enthusiastically sharing with the cannabis community for more than two decades. They began specializing in cannabis law after Craig’s son decided he wanted to get into the medical marijuana business in California’s largely unregulated market, prior to full legalization under 2016’s Prop. 64.
Back then, medical marijuana was legal under state law, but many law enforcement agencies still went after patients and collectives. If a patient or provider was busted, they had to prove that their actions, be they growing, possessing or selling marijuana, were for the benefit of legitimate patients. That left people like Craig’s son in jeopardy of arrest and prosecution.
“When he showed the interest, we decided we better go to bat, we better do our research and learn the laws as they existed then,” says Craig in a telephone interview. “And that’s really when we stepped into the cannabis space.”
As they represented more patients and providers, it became clear to Marc and Craig that many interactions with law enforcement were made worse when people who had been stopped by the police inadvertently gave up their constitutional rights by saying more than the law required.
The way that prosecutors “get the convictions is when people say, ‘I smoked an hour ago, this is when I used my cannabis,’ even 24 hours ago,” Marc explains.
To protect their clients, Craig and Marc, who practice as the Pot Brothers at Law, began advising them how to conduct themselves if they were stopped by the police. Over time, the suggestions developed into a copyrighted 25-word script. When properly employed, the brothers explained, these four short and easily memorized lines can help protect one’s constitutional rights.
Although the script was originally developed for medical marijuana patients and providers, the Wassermans say that anyone can use it to protect their rights. It might even prevent a DUI arrest for someone who may have been enjoying a little marijuana or alcohol but isn’t necessarily impaired.
To aid in understanding the script, during our interview the Pot Brothers at Law ran through the four lines and explained why each is important. Here they are:
“Why Did You Pull Me Over?”
If you’ve been stopped by the police, the first thing you should ask is why you’ve been pulled over. Under case law, police officers must complete traffic stops within a reasonable amount of time, so this question gets the clock ticking and moves the interaction along. Comply with requests for identification, registration, and insurance information, but refrain from engaging in casual conversation with the police.
“They want you to get comfortable talking and then who knows what you’re going to say that’s going to incriminate yourself,” Craig says.
“I’m Not Discussing My Day.”
The second line of the script allows you to preserve your rights to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. Use it to respectfully answer any questions posed by the law enforcement officer, such as where you’re going or if you’ve been drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana. By avoiding discussion, you protect your rights without giving cause for further investigation.
“If you say, ‘I had one or two’ [drinks or joints], you’re most likely going in for a DUI and get your blood taken and all that good stuff,” says Craig. “But if you say, ‘I’m not discussing my day,’ they’re going to have to decide” if you appear impaired.
The Pot Brothers at Law advise their clients to politely decline requests to perform a field sobriety test in California, where they are not required, although laws vary in different states. In any event, the Wassermans advise, do not lie to the police. Telling falsehoods will only compound your problem. Stick to the script, instead.
“If the cop is talking to you, it means they don’t have enough to arrest you on, so don’t give it” to them, Craig suggests. “And the easiest way to do it is politely say ‘I’m not discussing my day,’ no matter what they ask.”
“Am I Being Detained Or Am I Free To Go?”
After you let the police officer know you’re not up for conversation, the next line of the script keeps the interaction moving along and lets you know where you stand. If you’ve committed a traffic offense, you might get a ticket. If you appear impaired, you’ll probably be getting a ride downtown. But if the officer is chasing a hunch, perhaps because you were seen leaving the parking lot of a bar, you’ll likely be let go.
“I Invoke The Fifth!”
If the police officer informs you that you are being detained, the fourth line of the script protects your right to remain silent. Curiously, a Supreme Court ruling requires you to verbally assert your desire to remain silent. Remaining mute isn’t enough to protect yourself. Once you’ve invoked your rights under the Fifth Amendment, the Pot Brothers at Law are emphatic about the next step to take.
“Shut the fuck up!” they exclaim in unison, reciting another line they’ve had copyrighted. Your right to remain silent won’t do you any good if you keep talking.
The Pot Brothers at Law reiterated that the script is designed to preserve your rights. It’s not intended to prevent an arrest, although they’ve heard from many people who have remained free after using it. And while they wrote the 25 words with medical marijuana patients in California in mind, they note that it can be useful anywhere in the United States, and even in some foreign countries.
“We quickly learned through comments and talking to people and through our own understanding, that this is for anybody, everywhere. No matter who you are, what you’ve been smoking, drinking or doing. It’s for any time you have to engage with law enforcement, except for when you’re a victim,” says Marc. “But any other time you engage with law enforcement, you need to stick to the script because it helps to protect and preserve all of your constitutional and civil rights, remedies, and defenses if you need them in court.”
In addition to their marijuana criminal defense practice, the Pot Brothers at Law also advise clients on operating in the regulated cannabis industry, including licensing, mergers, and acquisitions. They have become internet sensations with their script and “STFU” slogan, amassing hundreds of thousands of followers of Instagram and Facebook. They even have a line of merchandise on their website, and co-host Cannabis Talk 101, the only marijuana-themed podcast to be produced in partnership with iHeartRadio. It’s a lot of work, but it all gives them more opportunities to share the best way to stay out of jail.
“Shut the fuck up!”
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