New Minnesota Law Bans Police Searches Based on Cannabis Odor Alone

A new Minnesota law bars police from carrying out warrantless vehicle searches based solely on the detection of cannabis odor; the law reaffirms the state’s Supreme Court ruling on the issue last year.

Full story after the jump.

Police in Minnesota will not be allowed to carry out vehicle searches during traffic stops based solely on cannabis odor under a bill signed into law late last month by Gov. Tim Walz (D), according to a MinnPost report.

The language in the bill was based on a previous measure by state Sen. Clare Oumou Verbeten that sought more broadly to ban police officers from asking for consent to conduct warrantless vehicle searches. Additionally, the legislation reaffirms a Supreme Court decision reached last year — after the state’s cannabis legalization policy took effect — that vehicle searches based solely on an officer’s perceived detection of cannabis odor are not legal.

“We’ve seen it with other really important issues, whether we’re talking about reproductive rights or voting rights, the court can come back and reverse their decision. It’s important for us to have this be a part of our strategy to try to pass legislation and codify these rights and other things that are important to us, and not just rely on the courts.” — Omou Verbeten, via MinnPost

Minnesota was not the first state to enact such a cannabis odor policy — lawmakers in Maryland passed similar legislation last April. However, in Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court ruled last June that warrantless vehicle searches based only on the detection of cannabis odor were legal.

Cannabis use and possession became legal for Minnesota adults aged 21+ on August 1 last year but the state’s regulated cannabis market has yet to fully launch.


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