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Marijuana Scent Still Sufficient for Vehicle Searches in Illinois

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Medical and recreational marijuana are both legal in Illinois, but that isn’t stopping cops from performing vehicle searches solely based on the smell of marijuana odor coming from the vehicle. It’s still considered probable cause.

Detection of marijuana by a drug-sniffing dog is also probable cause for a vehicle search, the Chicago Sun Times notes. Transporting legally-purchased marijuana in Illinois must be done in an “odor-proof” container.

Public Defender Emily Fitch doesn’t quite agree with this. She said, “It’s just like a cigarette. That smoke smell lingers. They could just be smoking it in their home and it just sticks to their clothing and they just reek like cannabis.”

Illinois marijuana law is a bit conflicted and confusing. Depending on how the aroma of marijuana is detected, there are different steps that have to be taken. If an officer smells the marijuana, additional factors need to be present to prompt a search. However, if a drug-sniffing dog detects marijuana, that’s an entirely different story and allows an officer to search the vehicle.

It’s likely that this will see more attention in the Illinois court system to develop clear and concise guidelines for what prompts a search and what doesn’t and if the odor of marijuana alone is enough “probable cause” to prompt a search.