Pennsylvania Judge Rules Searching Car Due to Cannabis Scent Illegal

A Pennsylvania decide has dominated that a search of a medical marijuana affected person’s automotive based mostly on the scent of hashish is prohibited. In an opinion filed earlier this month, Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos excluded proof in a medicine and weapons case, dealing a blow to prosecutors.

The ruling stems from the case of Timothy Barr, 27, a registered medical marijuana affected person with the state of Pennsylvania. In November, Barr, a resident of Germansville, Pennsylvania, was a passenger in a automotive pushed by his spouse once they have been pulled over by state troopers for a visitors violation. When the regulation enforcement officers stated that they smelled marijuana within the car, Barr confirmed them his medical marijuana identification card issued by the state.

However, the troopers stated that they nonetheless had a authorized proper to search the automotive and located a small quantity of hashish and hashish residue. They additionally discovered a loaded handgun beneath the driving force’s seat. Due to a earlier felony conviction, Barr is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

In the opinion within the case filed by Dantos, the decide wrote that it was “illogical, impractical and unreasonable” for the troopers to suspect that a crime had been dedicated after Barr confirmed them his medical marijuana identification card.

“The smell of marijuana is no longer per se indicative of a crime,” Dantos wrote.

Cops Don’t Know the Law

The case additionally reveals how woefully uninformed some regulation enforcement officers are concerning the legal guidelines they’re charged with implementing. One trooper within the case testified that she believed medical marijuana had no odor whereas the opposite stated that she thought dried hashish was nonetheless unlawful beneath the state’s medical marijuana laws. Cannabis flower has been out there for authorized buy at licensed medical marijuana dispensaries since August, 2018.

The troopers had discovered lower than a gram of hashish in an unmarked bag that was in a capsule bottle and charged Barr with possession, regardless of his standing as a medical marijuana affected person.

“Pennsylvania legislators did not contemplate that people with legal medical marijuana cards would be arrested and prosecuted for possession of marijuana in a package that is not clearly marked with a dispensary name on it. Such actions are merely means of hampering the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes,” Dantos wrote in her opinion.

Dantos additionally wrote that the case illustrated a “clear disconnect between the medical community and the law enforcement community.” The decide dismissed the marijuana possession cost and dominated that the handgun found within the automotive was inadmissible as proof within the weapons case.

District Attorney Jim Martin stated that his workplace is reviewing the decide’s ruling and transcripts from courtroom hearings within the case. Prosecutors haven’t but determined if they may attraction Dantos’ ruling to the Superior Court, proceed with out the excluded proof, or drop the case.

Criminal protection lawyer Joshua Karoly stated that the ruling could lead on to an finish of a procedural rule that permits regulation enforcement officers to conduct searches of automobiles based mostly solely on the odor of hashish.

“This case will put a spotlight on the plain smell doctrine in Pennsylvania which police use far too often to invade citizens’ privacy,” Karoly stated.


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