Should You Eat Your Marijuana During A Police Stop? A Guide

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Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure is being arraigned today in Berrien County, Mich., court on a marijuana charge. As with many low-stakes weed busts, the details are whimsical:

The officer observed Leshoure "chewing marijuana" and saw "small pieces of marijuana down the front of his shirt," according to the report. Leshoure complied when he was ordered to spit out the marijuana, the report said.

According to the report, Leshoure admitted to smoking marijuana before he was pulled over but said most of the substance in his mouth was potpourri that was mixed with the drug.

But they're also familiar details. Consider what happened to Carl Fleming, a Pitt linebacker, over the weekend:

Officers saw him shove a plastic bag into his mouth, and ordered him to open the door and spit out the bag, according to the affidavit. Mr. Fleming refused, and officers then opened the door and pulled him out of the vehicle. When he still refused to spit out the bag, one of the officers punched him and got the bag, which contained marijuana, according to police.


Or take the cases of Elijah Dukes and Samaki Walker, both of whom, in the past year, allegedly tried to eat their weed when cops closed in on them. Anyone who has ever talked to a cop with contraband of one kind or another on his person will certainly understand the impulse, and the move does make a certain kind of pothead sense—how are they gonna bust me for possession if I possess it inside me, man? But are the pot-eating athletes doing the smart thing?


Yes, according to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). He says cops will leave people alone if they successfully scarf down their pot. But there are some caveats.

One problem is that eating weed isn't easy. One poster on writes: "Raw bud isn't very appetizing. Eat a little and see." It's dry and sticky. It doesn't go down smooth, and you can't make it go away quickly—stray flecks linger on one's fingers, face, and shirt.

"If you're in that position," St. Pierre says, "you want it in a single, self-contained unit, like the joint," says St. Pierre, adding that rolling papers tend to be hemp-based and edible.

Too much of it causes trouble. Don't try to eat more than half a gram. Any more than that, St. Pierre tells me, and it'll be like trying to talk with your mouth full of saltines. You don't have to worry about getting high from half a gram, either. If the pot isn't heated or compressed, said St. Pierre, "there should be little or no psychoactive effects." Avoid pipes, vaporizers, and the like—one can't swallow those.


St. Pierre says that cops often trick people into opening their mouths and sticking out their tongues during stops. They say they're looking for a green tongue, ostensibly a sign of recent marijuana use. It's not a real indicator, but it works—anyone who has recently tried to swallow weed will show the sticky stuff all over their teeth.

NORML says the athletes had the right idea but tried to execute it in the wrong circumstances. Leshoure, Dukes, and Fleming allegedly all had too much weed on them to gulp down—remember, half a gram is the upper limit—and none of them kept the pot in self-contained units small enough to swallow. They were doomed to fail. It's a familiar story, in a way: athletes, brimming with machismo, wanting too much, pushing themselves too hard, and cracking under the pressure.


The lesson: Eat pot. Not too much. Mostly joints.