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MA Supreme Court: Smell of Pot Smoke != Reasonable Suspicion of a Crime

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  • MA Supreme Court: Smell of Pot Smoke != Reasonable Suspicion of a Crime

    Originally posted by 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)
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/...73I6IA20110419
    Wouldn't the suspicion of DUI be reasonable if the car smells like pot smoke?
    Last edited by Fëanor; 04-19-2011, 05:56 PM.

  • #2
    Did I read that wrong, or did it say that because of one state's decriminalization, it is not probable cause for every state? Or does it just mean in Massachusetts?
    Pursuing the dream.


    Awaiting the start of Academy... April 28th.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by jjbledsoe View Post
      Did I read that wrong, or did it say that because of one state's decriminalization, it is not probable cause for every state? Or does it just mean in Massachusetts?
      \

      Either way, a Mass court ruling will not effect any other state

      Comment


      • #4
        It's all about Officer safety. I have, in my training and experience, learned that where there are drugs, there are weapons. If I smell marajuana... you're coming out of the car. You can seperate someone from their vehicle for way less... well, at least here in NC you can.

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        • #5
          I would have to agree with the court on this one if possessing isnt a crime then theres not reason to get them out of the car. I guess you could go Driving while imparied by drugs route but vehicle was parked and didnt say if it was running or not so that to would be a big stretch. Luckily in NY the odor is enough because its criminal (only a violation) to possess. Here the drugs equals weapons thought would never fly. doesnt mean it wont happen just that you had better be able to articulate it alot better then just drugs equals weapons.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Fëanor View Post
            Wouldn't the suspicion of DUI be reasonable if the car smells like pot smoke?
            Good question, I think it's gonna depend on reason for the stop, if the operator appeared to have glassy eyes..slurred speech etc and the stop involved some type of common imparied driving indicator such as a marked lane violation, wide radius turns etc..and you have a DRE handy then you could be good to go for 90-24 OUI-Drugs..but this is Mass and we have some pretty bad SJC rulings and our OUI laws are a joke..
            "Massachusetts it's NOT All here!!!!"

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            • #7
              Originally posted by NavySAR View Post
              It's all about Officer safety. I have, in my training and experience, learned that where there are drugs, there are weapons. If I smell marajuana... you're coming out of the car. You can seperate someone from their vehicle for way less... well, at least here in NC you can.
              NavySAR,

              Stick around here for awhile and you'll find that we in NC are capable of many more things than other states. Plain touch being near the top of the list and the ability to serve warrants 24/7 are two that shocked me.
              Last edited by Smurfette_76; 04-20-2011, 06:55 AM.
              sigpic

              I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Yankee_1 View Post
                I would have to agree with the court on this one if possessing isnt a crime then theres not reason to get them out of the car. I guess you could go Driving while imparied by drugs route but vehicle was parked and didnt say if it was running or not so that to would be a big stretch. Luckily in NY the odor is enough because its criminal (only a violation) to possess. Here the drugs equals weapons thought would never fly. doesnt mean it wont happen just that you had better be able to articulate it alot better then just drugs equals weapons.
                Possession is STILL a crime under federal law.

                Bill
                Just pay your dues, and be quiet :-)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Is it me, or do we not have the authority to pull an individual out of a vehicle because we pretty much want to, for Officer Safety? If I pull someone over for speeding and feel comfortable with pulling the driver out of the vehicle, I can. I don't need a suspicious of a crime. So why does this marijuana factor have ANYTHING to do with pulling this guy out of the vehicle?

                  PA vs Mimms
                  and then Maryland Vs Wilson.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MiGuy View Post
                    Is it me, or do we not have the authority to pull an individual out of a vehicle because we pretty much want to, for Officer Safety? If I pull someone over for speeding and feel comfortable with pulling the driver out of the vehicle, I can. I don't need a suspicious of a crime. So why does this marijuana factor have ANYTHING to do with pulling this guy out of the vehicle?

                    PA vs Mimms
                    and then Maryland Vs Wilson.
                    Well the officer in the case mentioned stated that his REASON for pulling the guy out of the vehicle was that he smelled pot smoke ? Much like an employer can fire an employee in an at-will state for no reason at all, but can get into trouble if they articulate a reason that is unfair or unfounded ?

                    Bill
                    Just pay your dues, and be quiet :-)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MiGuy View Post
                      PA vs Mimms
                      Which the Commonweath of Mass does not recognize btw. There's another thread in the Squad Room forum about this topic too. In the meantime it looks like some of us here will just have to get a little more creative with the laws we do have.
                      Last edited by Sgt Jack; 04-20-2011, 12:10 PM.
                      "Massachusetts it's NOT All here!!!!"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Yankee_1 View Post
                        I would have to agree with the court on this one if possessing isnt a crime then theres not reason to get them out of the car. I guess you could go Driving while imparied by drugs route but vehicle was parked and didnt say if it was running or not so that to would be a big stretch. Luckily in NY the odor is enough because its criminal (only a violation) to possess. Here the drugs equals weapons thought would never fly. doesnt mean it wont happen just that you had better be able to articulate it alot better then just drugs equals weapons.
                        But what if they have more than 1 oz? The odor of MJ smoke cannot tell you how much MJ the occupant os possessing.

                        So, can you walk down the street smoking a blunt if its under 1 oz in Mass??
                        Last edited by crass cop; 04-21-2011, 07:15 AM.
                        "I don't go on "I'maworthlesscumdumpster.com" and post negative **** about cum dumpsters."
                        The Tick

                        "Are you referring to the secret headquarters of a fictional crime fighter or penal complex slang for a-$$hole, anus or rectum?"
                        sanitizer

                        "and we all know you are a poser and a p*ssy.... "
                        Bearcat357 to Dinner Portion/buck8/long relief

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CompScientist
                          Strange question, Fëanor, but where did you pick up using != for "not equals". I had always assumed that everyone knew it, since there's no "slashed equal sign" key, but I quickly found that about half of my first year programming students have no idea what it means, and of the ones that do it's almost always because they have some C or Java programming experience (those languages use !=). So help me out, is it in common use among non-nerds, or do you just happen to be one of us?
                          What are you talking about? Are you even speaking english??
                          And sorry everyone for the very off-topic post.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            wow and I thought itwas a type O.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by willbird View Post
                              Possession is STILL a crime under federal law.

                              Bill
                              I have never arrested for a federal law or heard of someone doing it around here. I wouldnt waste my time with it if it wasnt a state law. I usually dont waste my time with it and it is illeagal in NY.

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