Marijuana odor alone is not reason enough for vehicles to be searched, Minnesota Supreme Court affirms

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 8:30 PM CDT
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Supreme Court has affirmed that marijuana odor is not enough reason to search a vehicle under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement.

The decision, filed Wednesday, was in relation to an appeal made by the state in a July 2021 case in Litchfield. A man’s vehicle was searched after the officer thought he smelled marijuana. The man was later charged with being in possession of methamphetamine paraphernalia after the search.

According to the court, the search was only justified by the alleged odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The evidence found in the search was suppressed and the man’s charges were later dismissed after the district court determined the odor of marijuana alone was insufficient probable cause to search the vehicle.

The state appealed the case, but the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision.

The case was appealed again to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which agreed with the lower court’s ruling.

“Because we conclude that the odor of marijuana emanating from a vehicle, alone, is insufficient to create the requisite probable cause to search a vehicle under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement, we affirm,” the high court said in the filing.