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Search and Seizure Laws Contested in Massachusetts

When the business day starts on March 3rd, a certain number of concerned citizens will likely be paying attention to the argument that is scheduled to begin in the courts that day.  That is the day that NORML’s “amicus curiae” will take to the docket of the Massachusetts Supreme Court that was filed on the 18th of this month.

 

As a judge has stated in this case, police officers are trained, at least in part, based on the odor of marijuana when they’re suspicious of illegal activity.  As a result, when they are able to actually smell it, according to the judge, that automatically means that there is a sufficient enough amount of cannabis in the suspect’s possession to questioning about the substance on the basis that if it is producing that strong of a scent, there must be more than the decriminalized “permitted” amount of one ounce. 

 

In the case in question, the judge decided that the officers were within their right to question the defendant, then seek and seize the marijuana that the defendant had directed them to during the questioning.  The judge then ruled that once that bag was retrieved, the police did not have sufficient evidence to continue searching.  NORML’s take on the case is that the voters of Massachusetts opted to decriminalize an ounce or less of weed as a measure to free up law enforcement resources, and that this type of find should result in nothing more than a ticket.

 

As the case makes its way through the court system, it will be interesting to see the decisions that are handed down.