In a move that has state police in an uproar, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court yesterday ruled that the smell of unburned pot in a car isn’t enough of a reason for cops to search it because the state decriminalized small amounts back in 2008. Basically: because some amounts of pot possession aren’t a crime, the cops can’t use the smell of weed to justify their search.
Not only that, but the court pointed out that they made a similar ruling three years ago, deciding that the smell of raw weed wasn’t enough to justify the search of someone on the street. According to the judges: the police should “focus their attention elsewhere.”
“The 2008 initiative decriminalized possession of one ounce or less of marijuana under State law, and accordingly removed police authority to arrest individuals for civil violations,” Justice Barbara Lenk wrote in the unanimous ruling. “We have held that the odor of burnt marijuana alone cannot support probable cause to search a vehicle without a warrant … we hold that such odor, standing alone, does not provide probable cause to search an automobile.”