Can the Police search my car if they smell marijuana?
Updated: Apr 2
Every person has a right to privacy and a right against unreasonable search and seizure. A common situation is the police pull over an individual for a traffic violation i.e. not using a signal, broken brake light or texting. The police then smell marijuana. Do you know what your rights are? Can you tell the police to not search the car?
Massachusetts has decriminalized marijuana for medical and recreational use. Selling marijuana without a license still remains to be illegal. Since the decriminalization of marijuana the rules of searching a car has also changed. In the past, if the police smelled marijuana they were allowed to search your car without your consent. Since that time two cases dramatically changed the law.
The first case didn’t allow the police to search a car if they smelled burnt marijuana. So if the police said they smelled burnt marijuana during the stop it didn’t give them a legal justification to search the car. Not surprising that after this case, the police started to write their reports to say they smelled unburnt marijuana. Until recently the law allowed for the police to search the car if the police smelled unburnt marijuana. That has all since changed. Whether the police smell burnt or unburnt marijuana it does not allow the police to search your car.
It is important to know that smelling of marijuana alone doesn’t allow for the police to search your car. However, if you don’t know the law and out of fear consent to being searched then it would allow the police to search your car. Simply, never consent to allow your car to be searched. Nothing good will come out from you allowing the police to search your car.