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What's Up With the Smell of Marijuana?

The legalization of hemp, on July 1st of this year, has turned law enforcement and prosecution on its head. Previously, when hemp wasn’t legal, the smell of marijuana (or hemp) during a traffic stop could legally lead to the search of your vehicle. The smell alone was probable cause.

But now these highly trained drug dogs, as well as deputies and police officers, can’t differentiate between the smell of marijuana and the smell of hemp. That means that the smell alone may no longer a reason to detain you.

In many areas the prosecutors are pushing officers for more than smell to explain why someone was detained and/or searched. An officer likely needs to be able to articulate reasons beyond an odor to explain why they believe someone possessed marijuana.

On top of the odor issue is the fact that the FDLE lab, which frequently tests suspected illicit substances for Florida Law Enforcement, may not be equipped to test for the amount of THC in something. Hemp and CBD have small amounts of THC, meaning they could test positive for FDLE the same way that marijuana does. Thus, someone could be convicted for marijuana possession even if they only had hemp.

There are a lot of interesting details and ideas arising with the passage of this new law. And enforcement if different between counties and even between varying law enforcement agencies within the same area. It is more important than ever to talk to a lawyer if you’ve been detained or searched because the officer purportedly smelled marijuana. Call Dunham and Ingram today.