Can You Get Busted By The Cops For Texting About Drugs?

New York Man Arrested After Texting Woman Over 70 Times

iStockphoto / Prykhodov

Now that marijuana is legal in more parts of the United States, the average stoner doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about secrecy.

Some comfortable cannabis enthusiasts think that the cops are no longer interested in dragging people to jail over pot-related offenses, so why make with all of the cloak and dagger? They have no qualms whatsoever about posting videos of them smoking pot on social media, and some are even brave enough to share photos of their personal cannabis grow spaces for God and all to see.

Even those pot users who are cautious with respect to their green posts are not exactly winning any awards when it comes to keeping hush-hush. Some believe that since their name is printed on the cell phone bill, the messages they send to family, friends and neighborhood drug dealers are private.

But that’s not necessarily true.

Unfortunately, regardless of the ever-changing legal climate of the cannabis scene, these tattle tale cell phone transmissions can still come back to take a giant bite out of your ass. If there is one thing that you, the reader, should take away from this article it’s that texting drug shit, even if it is only about marijuana, is still dangerous.

Listen, it’s not that we’re completely paranoid. But we could all use a reminder that marijuana prohibition is still alive and well in the United States. Even though pot is now legal in 11 states for recreational use, it is still mostly outlawed everywhere else in the nation. Hell, the federal government still considers it as evil as heroin. And contrary to what some would like to believe, some states are still prosecuting marijuana offenders to the fullest extent of the law. Even though most cases are for simple possession – something that is dealt with through fines, probation and brief stints in county jail — some pot offenders are being sentenced to lengthy stays in state and federal penitentiaries. Sometimes, it is those careless text messages that end up putting them away.

So it is vital to understand a few things about texting and drugs before your thumbs get you into trouble.

For starters, there isn’t a law that says a person cannot text someone about drug use. This is free speech at its finest. So, it is highly unlikely that you could face a shakedown by law enforcement simply for texting one of your buddies something like, “Man, I got so stoned last night off those dabs. Let’s do it again later on.” The cops are probably not going to all of a sudden swarm your apartment and proceed in making your life a living hell. No sir, they want the bigger fish.

Therefore, it is only when the text message indicates that a person is buying or selling drugs that the risk of a bust becomes real. In some cases, text messages can be used as evidence to prosecute a person for a crime. A message reading: “How much for an eighth?” or “I just got my hands on a QP, you in?” could be all it takes to get police sniffing around. Countless people have been arrested based on these types of digital drug deals. Even if you’re just a buyer, your phone number showing up on a drug dealers phone almost ensures that you will be part of a criminal investigation.

Look, assume “they” have everything. And by “they,” we mean the cops and every government agency from the CIA to the DEA. We learned enough from the Edward Snowden debacle that the U.S. government is not always on the up an up when it comes to respecting the privacy of its citizens. And the technology they have to spy on us is some sophisticated, spooky shit, we’re here to tell you. They could be watching us take a dump every time we take our cell phones into the bathroom. Considering that PRISM was capable of conducting this type of in-home surveillance, they’ve probably caught all of us doing some pretty weird shit. Thankfully, you can’t go to jail in this country just for being weird. We’d all be rotting in cages if that were the case.

Fortunately, the Fourth Amendment goes a long way in stopping law enforcement from just barging into our homes and combing through our stuff in pursuit of evidence they can use to put us in jail. The same goes for text messages. The only time a cop has the right to search a person’s cell phone is if they have a warrant, or if the alleged offender voluntarily offers to let them take a look. Never do that, though. Always make the police get a warrant. You are not required to make it easy on them, and your cooperation sure as shit isn’t going to help you get a lesser sentence if the contents of the phone get you arrested. If the cops have probable cause to initiate a cell phone search, they will have no trouble convincing a judge that they need a warrant.

We also know that some law enforcement agencies have devices called Stingrays that can be used to track cell phone locations, intercept live phone calls and, you guessed it, read text messages. Now, these machines are only supposed to be used to help officers track down leads in drug cases. But we really do not know the full extent for which they are being used out in the field. What we do know is they pick up every cell phone communication within range. This means that even if they are not “looking” at you at the time, they might pick up on some information from your cell phone activity that puts them on your tail. Anything is possible, so why take a chance?

Just for the sake of watching your own ass, it is wise to refrain from writing anything down that may be used to jam you up in a court of law. It doesn’t matter if it is a Post-It note, a social media post or a text message. All of these mediums can potentially get someone into trouble if they mention illegal drugs. At least come up with creative code words if you must use your cell phone for drug business. But before you do, make sure to check out the DEA’s current list of drug slang.

They might already be onto your lingo.