Last week an Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that the smell of burning cannabis did not constitute a “physically offensive” odor and therefore was not in itself a crime that gave probable cause for police to search your home.
The case itself was about a man named Jared William Lang, who was arrested in 2012 after his neighbors complained of the strong odor of marijuana coming from his apartment. Police arrived at Jared’s home, search warrant in hand, to investigate the odor. The basis of the warrant was the offensive odor, which is a second-degree disorderly conduct charge in Oregon.
Once in the home, of course, police found incriminating evidence of Jared’s illegal cannabis use. He was later convicted of three counts of criminal mischief, a conviction he appealed based on the cops finding the evidence during an illegal search.
The appeals court agreed with Jared and his lawyers, ruling that the smell could not be considered offensive because it was not “intense or persistent” enough. Furthermore it could not be considered on the same level as something like garbage because many “find the scent pleasing.”
It’s more good news for those who partake of the lovely lady Mary Jane in Oregon (in addition to recent recreational legalization).
Sadly, smell alone has been the cause of an untold numbers of pot smokers getting searched, whether the illegal contraband is on their person, in their car or in their home. This has led to many of the over 15 million cannabis arrests since 1970. So many lives ruined just because someone smelled a burning joint or the remnants of a bong rip.
Hopefully more courts come to the same conclusion the Oregon court did, and hopefully more legalization measures contain stipulations that marijuana odor is not a crime or probable cause for a search.