Odor of marijuana no longer provides Probable Cause

Posted by Neil P. Halttunen | Sep 20, 2021 | 2 Comments

For decades, police officers have used motor vehicle stops and searches, which relied on officers saying they could smell marijuana, as part of their drug interdiction efforts. Because marijuana was illegal, the smell of it gave officers the probable cause they needed to justify the search. But now that marijuana is legal in 16 states and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in 36 states plus D.C., the odor of marijuana no longer provides ironclad probable cause, because smoking it in those states is not necessarily criminal. In California, the smell of marijuana alone coming from a car no longer provides probable cause for search of the car. United States v. Martinez, (9th Cir. Apr. 20, 2020) and in Oregon the Court of Appeals recognized that the odor of marijuana alone does not provide reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed in State v. T.T. (2021). These court opinions drastically change the legal landscape of search and seizure for many people involved in the use of marijuana.  


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Neil P. Halttunen Reply

Posted Jan 24, 2023 at 18:06:20

I would need more information to be sure but odor alone would not justify the search.

Jennifer Mitchell Reply

Posted Feb 01, 2024 at 03:46:24

During a license check is the odor of pot probable cause for search the hoodie I was wearing may have had an odor

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