In a victory for personal privacy, a Colorado appeals court ruled that the scent of cannabis, even if signaled by a drug sniffing dog, is not a valid reason to search a vehicle without permission. In a state like Colorado or Washington where recreational marijuana is legal, it's a violation of privacy to rifle through a person's possessions simply because a legal aroma is detected in the vicinity. Drug sniffing dogs in Colorado might as well retire if theyre going to signal at each and every bag of cannabis legally possessed by an adult. The case being debated was from a 2015 traffic stop, but the longstanding effort put into this case will set a precedent for many others and hopefully allow innocent Coloradans to feel safe when traveling with their legal cannabis.
A Colorado appeals court ruled Thursday that the possible presence of marijuana in a vehicle, detected by drug-sniffing dogs, does not give police the authority to search the vehicle.
“Because Amendment 64 legalized possession for personal use of one ounce or less of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older in Colorado, it is no longer accurate to say, at least as a matter of state law, that an alert by a dog which can detect marijuana — but not specific amounts — can reveal only the presence of ‘contraband,’” he wrote.