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Smell of Pot Doesn't Warrant Car Search, Mass. Supreme Court Rules

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Wednesday that the smell of raw marijuana does not give police the authority to search a vehicle.

File photo.
File photo.
The state Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday made a key ruling that eliminates police officers' authority to search a vehicle if they smell raw marijuana.

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.

Do you agree with the court's decision?
LEXMINMAN July 13, 2014 at 10:33 AM
what is the meaning of probable cause/what a nitwit
LEXMINMAN July 13, 2014 at 10:35 AM
whats next if you smell alcohol no sobriety test
Laura Rodriguez July 16, 2014 at 05:46 PM
I agree with this, even with alcohol just because you can smell it you can't tell if a person has only had one drink or has had several. What if someone had a drink spilled on them at a party? The smell shouldn't be the only proof to justify a search. Under the 4th amendment of the Constitution, we are protected against unlawful search and seizure. With that being said, the police should have more viable proof that a person is under the influence in order to administer a sobriety test.
Stretch July 19, 2014 at 06:53 AM
I remember less than a decade ago, while my car was parked in a parking lot a few hundred yards away from where I was standing, a marblehead police officer saying he was going to go search my car and if he found even one seed from a marijuana plant he would charge me with a felony.

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