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Mass. Marijuana law: Smell of pot not enough cause??

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  • Mass. Marijuana law: Smell of pot not enough cause??

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110420/..._marijuana_car

    "Marijuana smoke odor in car not enough for police action?
    Reuters


    – Wed Apr 20, 8:27 am ET

    BOSTON (Reuters) – The smell of marijuana smoke is no longer enough reason for police to order someone out of a car, now that pot has been decriminalized in Massachusetts, the state's highest court said in a decision published on Tuesday.

    The ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was in response to an appeal filed by lawyers for Benjamin Cruz from Boston, whom police ordered out of a car in 2009 when they approached the vehicle parked in front of a fire hydrant and smelled marijuana.

    Cruz was later charged with possession of a class B controlled substance with intent to distribute and committing a controlled substance violation in a school zone.

    The high court said a key factor in its decision was the 2008 change in state law which made possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a civil rather than a criminal offense.

    "Without at least some other additional fact to bolster a reasonable suspicion of actual criminal activity, the odor of burned marijuana alone cannot reasonably provide suspicion of criminal activity to justify an exit order," the opinion said.

    In a dissenting opinion, now retired Justice Judith Cowin wrote, "Even though possession of a small amount of marijuana is now no longer criminal, it may serve as the basis for a reasonable suspicion that activities involving marijuana, that are indeed criminal, are underway."

    "The odor of marijuana permits an officer reasonably to suspect that the parties involved are in possession of criminal quantities of marijuana or are in possession of marijuana with intent to distribute," she wrote.

    (Reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)"


    I really don't get this. Regardless if it's legal or illegal to possess, wouldn't the smell of pot in a car be akin to smelling liquor on someone and applicable DUI laws?
    "All that is, ever
    Ever was, will be, ever
    Twisting, turning, through the never."--Metallica

  • #2
    Originally posted by fishAK View Post
    I really don't get this. Regardless if it's legal or illegal to possess, wouldn't the smell of pot in a car be akin to smelling liquor on someone and applicable DUI laws?
    Yes and no. The smell of smoke could definitely be a factor in assessing if the person is impaired, but there needs to be additional factors. It would certainly be enough to ask the person to exit the vehicle and conduct an SFST, but that, in and of itself, won't get you inside the car. For example, if I come up to a car and the driver smells like a brewery, I'll get them out and conduct an OWI investigation. The smell of booze and the suspicion of OWI isn't enough to let me search the car.

    I guess I can understand this ruling for the most part. If simple possession isn't criminal, then indicators that suggest simple possession (i.e. the smell of marijuana smoke) wouldn't rise to the level of PC that a crime has been committed.

    I'd be very interested in seeing how the MA court would rule in the case of a very strong smell of green marijuana coming from a car. That kind of smell would be more indicative of large amounts of marijuana being transported for sale which would still be a crime under MA law.
    Originally posted by kontemplerande
    Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

    Comment


    • #3
      But according to the first sentence of the article, the smell alone would NOT be reason enough to ask the person to exit the vehicle, which is really where my brain kind of did a WTF on this one...there has to be some mechanism in place to be able to determine impairment, and it seems like the smell of pot in a car would be a reasonable reason to investigate further.

      Apparently not in Mass. "the odor of burned marijuana alone cannot reasonably provide suspicion of criminal activity to justify an exit order," the opinion said."

      If anything would point to possible impairment, it's the smell of freshly smoked marijuana. That's like having an open bottle of Jack on the floorboards between your feet. Does it prove you are drunk? No. Does it point to the possibility? Yes.

      Or not, apparently.
      "All that is, ever
      Ever was, will be, ever
      Twisting, turning, through the never."--Metallica

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by fishAK View Post
        But according to the first sentence of the article, the smell alone would NOT be reason enough to ask the person to exit the vehicle, which is really where my brain kind of did a WTF on this one...there has to be some mechanism in place to be able to determine impairment, and it seems like the smell of pot in a car would be a reasonable reason to investigate further.

        Apparently not in Mass. "the odor of burned marijuana alone cannot reasonably provide suspicion of criminal activity to justify an exit order," the opinion said."

        If anything would point to possible impairment, it's the smell of freshly smoked marijuana. That's like having an open bottle of Jack on the floorboards between your feet. Does it prove you are drunk? No. Does it point to the possibility? Yes.

        Or not, apparently.
        ^^^ This
        Be safe pulling back into the thread...
        http://infidelswithhonor.com/

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