Andrew H. Stevenson, Attorney At Law
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Drug Possession Archives

Can a Police Officer Search My Car Because He Smells Marijuana?

In Ohio, the smell of Marijuana is probable cause for a search of a vehicle. The Ohio Supreme Court in State v. Moore (2000), 90 Ohio St.3d 47 held that the smell of marijuana alone, by a person qualified to recognize the odor, is sufficient to establish probable cause to search a motor vehicle and the driver. If you are pulled over and an officer indicates that he smells marijuana he has the legal right to search your entire vehicle and you. He may detain you while the search is being conducted.

Whose Marijuana Is It If Nobody Claims It?

I represent many individuals charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession or paraphernalia possession. Most of these cases arise in connection with a traffic stop. The car is pulled over by police, the officer detains all individuals in the car, often asks to search, finds marijuana in the vehicle and then asks whose marijuana is it? Here is where it usually gets interesting. Often everyone denies ownership. The officer then threatens that everyone will get charged if no one comes forward. The result is 4 people charged with possession of 1 small amount of marijuana. How can they charge all four if it clearly is only one person's marijuana? The simple answer is: they can charge everybody, but that does not mean they can convict anyone.

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