Monday, September 16, 2019
This past week bought two notable news pieces on the ever-important and ever-dynamic intersection of policing and marijuana. Here are headlines, links and small excerpts:
From the AP, "In era of legal pot, can police search cars based on odor?":
Sniff and search is no longer the default for police in some of the 33 states that have legalized marijuana. Traditionally, an officer could use the merest whiff of weed to justify a warrantless vehicle search, and whatever turned up — pot, other kinds of illegal drugs, something else the motorist wasn’t allowed to have — could be used as evidence in court.
That’s still true in the minority of states where marijuana remains verboten. But the legal analysis is more complicated in places where pot has been approved for medical or adult use, and courts are beginning to weigh in. The result is that, in some states, a police officer who sniffs out pot isn’t necessarily allowed to go through someone’s automobile — because the odor by itself is no longer considered evidence of a crime.
From the New York Times, "Officers Said They Smelled Pot. The Judge Called Them Liars.":
Police officers can often justify a search with six words: “I smelled an odor of marijuana.” Courts in New York have long ruled if a car smells like marijuana smoke, the police can search it — and, according to some judges, even the occupants — without a warrant.
But in late July, a judge in the Bronx said in a scathing opinion that officers claim to smell marijuana so often that it strains credulity, and she called on judges across the state to stop letting police officers get away with lying about it. “The time has come to reject the canard of marijuana emanating from nearly every vehicle subject to a traffic stop,” Judge April Newbauer wrote in a decision in a case involving a gun the police discovered in car they had searched after claiming to have smelled marijuana.