Marijuana drug crimes – Ooh that smell

By Steve Haney posted in Drug Crimes on Saturday, March 16, 2013

The band Lynard Skynard years ago wrote a popular song about the very unique odor of marijuana.  It is an odor unlike any other and can be difficult to disquise.  The odor of marijuana has become a powerful tool for law enforcement for executing car searches for drug crimes in Joliet, Will County, Illinois.

Once a police officer makes a traffic stop on a car, his ability to conduct a search of the vehicle and its contents can only properly proceed with a legal basis to to do so. The drivers consent to search the car, the officer’s observing an illegal item in plain view, or probable cause to first make an arrest are the typical reasons the police will have to make a lawful search.

The I-80 corridor in Will County, Illinois is a major transportation route for the nations drug trade.  Traffic stops that result in arrests for drug crimes in this corridor are typically not random.  They are pre-textual with the arresting officer usually having pre-existing information on the vehicles description and contents.  In other words, it is a set-up.

But how can the officer make a search of the car for a simple traffic violation if the driver does not provide consent and no illegal items are in plain view? The smell of marijuana, or actually, the officer claiming he smelled marijuana, provides the legal basis for the officer to proceed with such a search.  The odor alone will provide a reasonable basis for the officer to believe a crime has been, or is being, committed and, therefore, justify a full search of the cars interior.

It has become a powerful law enforcement tool because it can be very difficult to convince a judge that the officer’s claim of having smelled cannabis was a fabrication.  This can even be true when no marijuana is actually present in the car or it is wrapped and packaged in a manner to eliminate the permeation of the odor (such as vacum sealing).

Only a highly trained and experienced criminal defense attorney can properly evaluate the legality of a car search that results in prosecution of a drug crime that gets prosecuted in Joliet, Will County, Illinois.