Massachusetts Supreme Court: Cops Can’t Search Vehicles Based on Smell of Cannabis

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled, in a unanimous decision, that law enforcement can’t use the smell of unburntmassa cannabis as probable cause to search a person’s vehicle, regardless of how strong the smell.

“[W]e are not confident, at least on this record, that a human nose can discern reliably the presence of a criminal amount of marijuana, as distinct from an amount subject only to a civil fine,” says Justice Barbara A. Lenk. The ruling expands the court’s 2011 Commonwealth v. Cruz decision, which ruled that the smell of burnt cannabis doesn’t give cops probable cause to search a car.

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