Police officers have been able to claim they smelled marijuana as justification for searching cars without a warrant, with the New York court system upholding this move. The New York Times reported that a Bronx judge has said enough is enough, and called on the rest of the state to stop this practice.
In July, Judge April Newbauer wrote in a court opinion that cops make this claim so frequently that it is no longer a believable excuse for warrantless searches. She went on to say, “The time has come to reject the canard of marijuana emanating from nearly every vehicle subject to a traffic stop.”
Many judges in recent years have found officers to be not believable when claiming there was the smell of marijuana in searched cars. In addition, many cops, like Bronx officer Pedro Serrano and an anonymous Manhattan detective, find believing their coworkers to be a difficult task.
The practice can lead to targeted searches not based on actual criminal activity.