Law-enforcement officers who detect the odor of marijuana from a vehicle can’t arrest all of the occupants, said a Washington Supreme Court ruling reported by the Seattle times. While smell alone may be reason for a vehicle search, the court said, it doesn’t warrant handcuffing passengers without other supporting evidence. Defense attorneys called it a right-to-privacy victory. Law-enforcement officers say it won’t greatly affect the way they make arrests.
Attorney David Zuckerman, who brought the case before the court, said the problem is that arresting someone based solely on the odor of marijuana can affect innocents. “The smell of marijuana smoke can linger for weeks,” he said. “You could have a perfectly innocent citizen get into a car where somebody smoked marijuana at some point [[ and an officer can just pull you out of a car and book you based on that.” Don Pierce of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs said that “Officers are going to have to be a little more keen in their investigative skills. “Normally, if you come across the odor of marijuana  there’s something else going on that helps you identify who the responsible person or persons is.”