In era of legal pot, can police search cars based on odor?
Sniff and search is no longer the default for police in some of the 33 states that have legalized marijuana.
Traditionally, an officer could use the merest whiff of weed to justify a warrantless vehicle search, and whatever turned up could be used as evidence in court.
That’s still true in the minority of states where marijuana remains verboten. But the legal analysis is more complicated in places where pot has been approved for medical or adult use.
Courts are beginning to weigh in. A Pennsylvania judge recently declared that state police didn’t have a valid legal reason for searching a car just because it smelled like cannabis. Courts in other states have also ruled for motorists in such cases.