7 Steps to Smoke Pot and Never Get Caught
Photo Credit: N.ico via Flickr
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I’ve been smoking marijuana since July 4, 1990, and it recently occurred to me that I have never been caught by law enforcement for doing so. I don’t feel like I’ve done very much to avoid getting caught. A quick Google search on my name will reveal more than enough evidence of my marijuana use.
So how is it that I’ve been able to avoid detection, arrest and imprisonment for my frequent use of the wacky tobaccy for over two decades?
First of all, let’s recognize that most people who smoke pot are like me – they don’t get caught. While in America there are indeed a ridiculous 850,000 or more marijuana arrests every year, there are also 29 million people using marijuana in any given year. So just in raw numbers, any given pot smoker has only a one-in-34 chance of being arrested this year.
But that’s in any given year and I’ve been toking for 22 years. A lot. By raw chance I should have been arrested by now for weed, yet I haven’t attracted even a second look from a police officer for smoking pot. What am I doing to avoid arrest for pot?
Step #1: Be White
Without a doubt the number-one factor keeping me out of a cage for my marijuana use is my “complexion of protection,” as comedian Paul Mooney calls it. According to research by Harry Levine at Queens College in New York, Latinos and African Americans are arrested in New York City at rates far exceeding whites, even as whites use marijuana at higher rates. Similar disparities have been found in the top 25 counties in California as well as in 11 of the largest cities in the United States. The targeting of non-white people for marijuana smoking is a primary reason the NAACP has endorsed the legalization measures pending in three Western states.
Of course, some people will have great difficulty being white. While it is statistically the best thing you can do, it’s not for everyone. However, if you follow the rest of the steps then you will probably avoid arrest for marijuana use.
Step #2: Be Middle-Aged
If you can avoid being arrested for your marijuana use until age 30, it’s probably not going to happen. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, almost two-thirds of all drug possession arrests happened to people under age 30 in 2009.
A lot of that statistic owes to the fact that it is young people who are smoking marijuana most often. Of those 29 million who are smoking pot this year, almost 17 million of them are under age 30, and 10 million of them smoke monthly. So while 58% of annual pot smokers are under age 30, 65% of all drug arrestees are under age 30. (These are figures from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2010, so they represent the people who are willing to tell a stranger on the phone representing the federal government their personal violations of state and federal drug laws. These numbers may be low.)
By this point I’m sure young black readers are disappointed. But these realities are so inherent in the Drug War that I’ve been able to violate most of the rest of the steps in this list at one time or another while smoking pot and not so much as raised a cop’s eyebrow.
Step #3: Look Square
I have smoked a joint in front of the Bush White House. I’ve sneaked a toke in an alley on Wall Street. I’ve chiefed green bud in the parking lot at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. I’ve been all around the country and smoked marijuana in red states and in blue states and much of what helped me avoid detection, even in my 20s, was not looking like somebody who smokes marijuana.