By Neel Shah
During his eight-year stint as a cop inTexas—two of them as head of narcotics for the Gladewater Police Department—Barry Cooper made over 800 drug-related arrests, impounded more than 50 vehicles, and seized at least $500,000 in cash and assets. He worked with everyone from the DEA to the FBI to border patrol, earning a reputation as the "best narcotics officer in the state, and perhaps the country," according to a former colleague. So what did Cooper, now married with four kids, learn from his experience?
"The war on drugs is an utterly losing proposition," he tells Radar. "We caused more harm breaking up families to put non-violent drug offenders in jail than the drugs ever did. And for what? To eradicate 1/10th of a percent of drugs on the street."
Tips for potheads looking to avoid the po-po, breezily narrated by the man formerly tasked with putting them behind barsCooper's epiphany stems in part from a few legal skirmishes of his own—he's been arrested five times (all non-drug-related offenses), though convicted only once, of a misdemeanor verbal assault charge. Plenty of cops lose faith in the system, but Cooper's 180 was so complete, he's now helping people to subvert it. Never Get Busted Again, in stores this September (or available now through his website), is a DVD compendium of advice for potheads looking to avoid the po-po, breezily narrated by the man formerly tasked with putting them behind bars. "I really just felt guilty about what I had done with my life," says Cooper. "This was the least I could do."
Because potheads have notoriously short attention spans, we asked Cooper to boil down his DVD into easy-to-read bullet points. Safe toking.
TRAVELING WITH MARIJUANA
• The best advice I can give you is this: Never carry more marijuana than you can eat. If the police turn on the red and blues, just eat it. It's not illegal to smell like pot—it's just illegal to possess it.
• Don't think that by hiding pot in coffee grounds, or masking the scent with Bounce fabric softener or vanilla extract, you're gonna be okay. Police dogs are trained to cut through these scents. Petroleum and cayenne pepper don't work either—a dog may jerk back after smelling it, but humans will recognize the reaction.
• If you are going to travel with marijuana, place it in a non-contamined container right before you leave. The drug odor won't have time to permeate through the plastic. If you are handling pot at your house, wear latex gloves or wash your hands—marijuana dust can reside on your fingers, and dogs can smell it. You'd be surprised at how many people get busted when dogs start sniffing around car door handles.
• Hiding your drugs in food is also a wise move. The mixed smells will throw off a dog.