Because possession of marijuana is no longer a crime, a police officers’ ability to stop, search, or detain you based on the smell of raw or burnt marijuana has been eliminated.
If you are a pedestrian, a police officer may not stop you, request to search you, or even detain you based on the odor of burnt or raw marijuana. In addition, the odor of marijuana by itself does not establish probable cause to conduct a search in a marijuana possession case or even a low-level (fourth-degree) possession with intent to distribute marijuana case. This is true whether you are an adult or a juvenile.
If you are pulled over in a motor vehicle, a police officer may not use the smell of burnt or raw marijuana alone as a reason to search your vehicle. An officer may investigate if there is probable cause to believe that the driver is operating the vehicle while under the influence, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. If there is probable cause to arrest a driver for driving under the influence, the vehicle may be searched.
If the driver is not found to be under the influence, the odor of marijuana alone, either burnt or raw, does not establish probable cause for a search of the car, or even the reasonable suspicion necessary to continue the stop. As a result, this means both the passengers and the car must be released once the initial reason for the stop has been addressed.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.