The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the smell of marijuana alone isn’t enough to justify police executing a warrantless search.
“The odor of marijuana alone does not amount to probable cause to conduct a non-warranted search of the vehicle but, rather, may be considered as a factor in examining the totality of the circumstances,” Chief Justice Max Baer wrote.
In 2018, officers searched a vehicle solely because they smelled pot. Officers had the vehicle pull over because the driver failed to stop at a solid white line prior to an overpass. After smelling marijuana at the window, officers searched the vehicle, finding a loaded handgun and less than one gram of the substance.
The defendant, Timothy Barr II, and his wife, the driver, presented their medical marijuana cards. The trial court initially dismissed the possession charge, saying the evidence was inadmissible because the search was unconstitutional.
The district attorney’s office argued that the drug remains illegal for most people in the state. But the Supreme Court sided with the trial court’s decision, reinstating the order to suppress the evidence.