Arizona Supreme Court Rules Marijuana Odor Justifies Police Search

Arizona Supreme Court Rules Marijuana Odor Justifies Police Search

Unsplash / Public Domain / Mateo Avila Chinchilla

On July 11, 2016, the Arizona Supreme ruled that police may search a person’s home or vehicle based solely on the smell of marijuana. The ruling was the result of two separate cases brought before the court in which a police search was conducted based solely upon the smell of marijuana.

In the first case, Tuscon police were given a tip about a warehouse emanating a strong odor of marijuana. After confirming the smell, the police obtained a warrant and found an illegal marijuana grow operation.

The second case involved police stopping a vehicle with windows that police suspected may have been illegally tinted. After pulling over the vehicle, police noticed the smell of marijuana burning in the car.

Although medical marijuana is legal in the state of Arizona, the court rejected the notion that the 2010 law prevents police from conducting searches based upon the smell of marijuana. However, the court did rule that the smell test did not apply to those with a state issued medical marijuana card.

“The odor of marijuana, without more, provides probable cause that a crime has occurred or is occurring,” wrote Chief Justice Scott Bales.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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