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Traffic Stop Cannabis Odor

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Pennsylvania Judge: Cannabis Odor Alone Does Not Justify Vehicle Search

A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that cannabis odor alone does not justify a vehicle search if the driver has presented a medical cannabis card.

Full story after the jump.

A Lehigh County, Pennsylvania judge has ruled that state police were not allowed to search a vehicle after the passenger showed them a medical cannabis patient identification card, according to an NBC10 report. The judge tossed evidence in the case in which the passenger faced drug and firearms charges.

“The smell of marijuana is no longer per se indicative of a crime.” Judge Maria Dantos, in her opinion, via NBC10

During the stop, police indicated they had smelled cannabis odor and had a right to search the vehicle even after the passenger had produced a valid, state-issued, medical cannabis card. Officers found a small amount of cannabis and cannabis residue, along with a loaded handgun under the seat, during the search. The passenger was unable to legally possess the weapon due to a previous conviction.

Dantos called the troopers’ actions “illogical, impractical and unreasonable” after the passenger had shown them the ID card and “are merely means of hampering the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.” One of the troopers testified that he was unaware that medical cannabis was available as flower in the state and said he didn’t know medical cannabis had a smell. Dantos said the case showed a “clear disconnect between the medical community and the law enforcement community.”

Prosecutors in the case can still decide to move forward with the case but they would be unable to use any evidence found during the vehicle search.  

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