In 2011, the court ruled that the smell of burnt marijuana coming from a vehicle cannot justify a police search. Its reasoning was that the smell of burnt pot does not mean someone has a criminal amount of the suspect in a vehicle. In 2008, Massachusetts decriminalized the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.
The court provided similar reasoning regarding the smell of raw, or unburnt, marijuana.
"The strength of a smell is ... at best a dubious means for reliably detecting the presence of a criminal amount of marijuana," Justice Barbara Lenk wrote. "(The smell of unburnt marijuana) points only to the presence of some marijuana, not necessarily a criminal amount."
The court's decision applied to the cases of Matthew Overmyer and Anthony Craan, who were arrested in 2012 and 2010, respectively, after officers said they smelled unburnt marijuana in their vehicles.