Marijuana odor case heads to state supreme court

Marijuana odor case heads to state supreme court

Published on 7/9/16

On it's way to the Arizona Supreme Court is a decision that will set a precedent for the whole state and possibly more. Last year, two different marijuana arrests were set in motion after police officers smelled marijuana - but the results were far different. One was a warehouse grow that was searched, and the other was a man who's vehicle was stopped, both soley for the smell of marijuana, which as of 2010, is legal for medical purposes in the state. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allows patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and dispensaries can grow an unspecified number of plants at off-site facilities. Due to the sheer innocent possibility of a dispensary growing legal marijuana in a private warehouse, it can be asserted that only the smell of marijuana is not enough to make a case for a crime. On the otherhand, when police searched the man's vehicle and found a 'marble size' amount of unburnt marijuana, he was charged and found guilty. With two very different conclusion to two similar marijuana cases, the Arizona Supreme Court must decide if the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act removes the ability for law enforcement to act on smell alone. A ruling is expected this Monday.

What that means, Eckerstrom wrote, is that the odor of marijuana indicates a crime may be being committed. But he said that, given the 2010 law, what police smell may be legal.

An attorney for Ian H. Cheatham argued that once voters approved the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, the smell of burnt marijuana is no longer evidence that a crime is being committed. That, he argued, made the search illegal.

What the court rules could prove transitory: Voters are likely to decide in November whether to allow any adult to obtain and use marijuana for recreational purposes. If they do, that would make the smell of marijuana even less grounds for police to search.

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