Appeals Court, January 21, 2014

The odor of unburnt marijuana alone does not provide a police officer with reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to either detain a person or issue an exit order, or probable cause to conduct a search.  However, when applying for a search warrant, an officer has enough to establish probable cause to believe a criminal quantity of marijuana is hidden in a vehicle based on the “overwhelming” odor of unburnt marijuana along with other factors, such as the absence of any implements for smoking marijuana, sizable bundles of currency, excess wiring under the dashboard and throughout the passenger compartment consistent with hides, the manner in which the marijuana in the small bag in the console was packaged, the inconsistency between the strength of the odor and the amount in the small bag, and the fact that the occupants had prior criminal convictions of drug offenses.

Note:  The Court noted, “[i]t is therefore unnecessary for us to decide whether the “overwhelming” odor of unburnt marijuana alone provided probable cause to support the issuance of the search warrant.”