The Free Thought Project August 4, 2014
In July, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said that because voters decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2008, police officers in Massachusetts can no longer rely on the odor of unburnt marijuana to justify searching a person’s car.
In 2011 it was ruled that the smell of burnt marijuana did not provide probably cause to stop people on the street nor search the vehicle of a person.
According to the Boston Globe:
The court said in its 2011 ruling that it would be legally inconsistent to allow police to make warrantless searches after they smell burning marijuana when citizens had decided through a statewide referendum question that law enforcement should “focus their attention elsewhere.’’
Now, the same logic is being applied to cases where the owner has not yet smoked the marijuana.
Marijuana, the court acknowledged, generates a pungent aroma, but an odor by itself does not allow police to determine whether a person has more than an ounce with them. Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is not a crime.
The court also ruled that even though federal law prohibits the possession of marijuana, local law enforcement could not use that alone to justify a stop.
“The fact that such conduct is technically subject to a Federal prohibition does not provide an independent justification for a warrantless search,’’ Justice Barbara Lenk wrote.
The rest of the country would do well to follow in the footsteps of Massachusetts as the war on drugs is and has been an immoral assault on human rights since its inception.
Unfortunately, when government takes one step forward, its followed by two (or more) steps back.
In Tampa, Florida, you do not even need to be present to have your rights violated. A recent ruling allows cops, who claim they ‘smell’ something, to break into your car, tear it apart, and leave it broken, even if they don’t find anything.
In May of this year, the Pennsylvania supreme court ruled, in a 4 to 2 decision, that police could conduct searches of vehicles based solely on probable cause, or an officer’s reasonable belief that the vehicle contained illegal goods or evidence of a crime.
Even when a law is passed stating that cops cannot arrest people for marijuana, police refuse to obey it, and make arrests anyway.