Massachusetts Supreme Court – Marijuana Smell Not Enough To Search Car
If you have consumed marijuana for long enough, chances are you have been pulled over by law enforcement and they have asked to search your car because they smell marijuana. The cops usually ask if they can search your car first, and if you refuse, they do it anyways because they claim they smell marijuana, and that’s enough probable cause to rip your car apart. It has happened to me on more than one occasion, with a few times happening when I didn’t have any marijuana in the car at all.
Saying that they smell marijuana is a tactic law enforcement has used for a long time. It’s nearly impossible to convince the officer that they don’t smell marijuana. Once they lock in on it, whether there’s actually marijuana in the car or not, the cops are on a one way mission to search every inch of your car. According to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, smell alone is no longer a valid reason to search someone’s vehicle in Massachusetts in some cases. Per Marijuana Policy Project:
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled Wednesday that police officers cannot search vehicles based solely upon the smell of unburnt marijuana, Boston.com reports. The court had previously decided that warrantless searches of pedestrians or cars for the smell of burned marijuana were illegal in 2011. They believed that allowing unwarranted searches based on the smell of marijuana would be inconsistent with the 2008 law that decriminalized marijuana in Massachusetts. The ruling on Wednesday was based on the fact that the human nose cannot discern the presence of a criminal amount of marijuana as opposed to a non-criminal amount. Possession of less than an ounce is not a crime in Massachusetts and, as the police cannot reliably distinguish criminal amounts of marijuana by smell, searches would not be legal. The justices wrote, “We are not confident, at least on this record, that a human nose can discern reliably the presence of a criminal amount of marijuana, as distinct from an amount subject only to a civil fine.”
The court said this decision was consistent with the will of the people who want the police to focus on more serious crimes. The court rejected the argument from law enforcement that they can search vehicles based on the smell of marijuana because possession of marijuana is still a criminal offense under federal law. Justice Barbara Lenk said, “The fact that such conduct is technically subject to a Federal prohibition does not provide an independent justification for a warrantless search.”
I wish this was the case in every state in America. Every state has atleast some police officers that are hell bent on busting every marijuana consumer they can find. These types of officers will do anything they can to impose their own personal opposition to marijuana into their job duties. I’m not saying that’s the case with every officer, but it’s something that certainly happens way to often. I tip my hat to the Massachusetts Supreme Court for making the correct ruling.