For many folks, the fragrance of cannabis is unmistakable. For police officers, it can still assist establish probable reason for a search.

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The odor of pot have the right to still prompt a medicine search under Illinois law. Sun-Times documents
For numerous folks, the fragrance the weed is unmistakable.

But the mere smell of pot deserve to still prompt cops to search a car in Illinois — in spite of the state totally legalizing the medicine at the begin of the year.

In an post published Monday through the Illinois State Bar Association, a previous prosecutor and a windy defender raised questions around what specifically constitutes probable cause for a search as soon as a cop or drug-sniffing dog smells marijuana. Previously this month, lawgiver in Virginia passed 2 bills avoiding officers indigenous conducting comparable warrantless searches that are at this time awaiting approval from the state’s governor.

While the legislation that legalized pot across Illinois prohibits the usage of cannabis in a vehicle and also requires that weed is transported in one “odor-proof” container, among the article’s authors warned the problems might potentially arise for folks that have obtained high elsewhere.

“It’s similar to a cigarette. That smoke smell lingers,” Emily Fitch, a public defender in Marion County, called the Sun-Times. “They might just be smoking it in their home and it simply sticks to your clothing and they just reek like cannabis.” In fact numerous strains the today’s high-powered weed are typically known together “loud” based upon their overwhelming sensory effects.

Fitch and also her colleague, previous Fayette county Assistant State’s lawyer Brenda Mathis, note in the short article that over there are different legal precedents for establishing probable cause in Illinois.

If a drug-sniffing dog detects the odor of weed in as lot time as it would take to write a ticket, that’s sufficient for policemans to search a vehicle. But if a cop smells weed, there needs to be other factors that note a search.

The precedent for police officers was created in a case decided by the Illinois supreme Court previously this year. The defendant in that case, Charles Hill, was uncovered with a tiny rock of cracked cocaine once a Decatur police officer searched his car after smelling marijuana and spotting a little “bud” in the earlier seat.

The court eventually ruled that the search was acceptable based upon the “totality that the circumstances” — and marijuana still being illegal in some situations, the attorneys wrote. Yet they claimed the ruling failed to “determine whether the odor of cannabis alone constitutes probable reason to search.”

“The Hill situation is a an important case for prosecutors and also defense attorneys alike as it will provide clear accuse in situations involving the smell of cannabis as a basis because that a search and seizure,” Fitch and also Mathis wrote. “Although this area of law is far from settled, this case provides insight regarding what is comes in the future.”

Ultimately, the attorneys created that “multiple issues” would certainly be clarified v further instance law and additional legislative action.

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Sun-Times records It deserve to be hard to determine when or whereby marijuana to be consumed based solely on its odor. State Reps. Kelly Cassidy and La Shawn Ford both claimed they at some point hope come further address the core concern of what constitutes probable cause, i beg your pardon was discussed as lawmakers debated the legalization law. Ford particularly said more protections must be developed “to make certain a person’s civil liberties no violated.”

“That odor is for this reason strong,” Ford said. “I’m sure everyone’s remained in a public space where someone had actually just smoked. Or they had actually probably smoked hours and they walk past you and you odor it.”

For Cassidy, the legalization the hemp, i beg your pardon is not intoxicating, “adds one more layer of an obstacle to this puzzle” due to the fact that that legal substance smells lot like cannabis. She added that the problem of what prompts a search is likely among the cannabis-related concerns that will “have to it is in constantly monitored and also looked at and adjusted.”

Fitch and also Mathis do it clear that cannabis regulation is still being established and also enforced v a patchwork of state laws and legal decisions. In the meantime, Fitch believes much more needs come be done to inform Illinoisans about what’s legal.

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Fitch claimed some of her clients have actually been surprised to learn the legal age for own weed is 21, while others were under the impression that it’s currently okay to smoke in a car. She thinks added public company campaigns could help get across some the finer points.

“Legally, ignorance of the legislation is no an excuse,” she said. “You don’t acquire away v it just due to the fact that you didn’t know, yet it may assist a tiny bit if human being did know.”