Two years ago, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that police may not search a vehicle based merely on the presence of the smell of marijuana. The holding in Massachusetts v. Cruz concerned a police officer who approached the car of driver Benjamin Cruz when he noticed Cruz smoking a small cigar. Once the officer smelled a “faint odor” of marijuana, Cruz was ordered out of the car, with an ensuing search revealing 4 grams of crack cocaine and resulting in an arrest for Cruz. The court held that the officer did not have a reasonable basis to order Cruz out of the car.
Years later, several decisions appear to suggest that the court has not backed down from the principles underlying the Cruz decision. [Read more…]