New Marijuana Odor Case: Commonwealth v. Overmeyer

Answering a previously open question in Massachusetts (after Cruz), the SJC ruled in Commonwealth v. Overmeyer that the smell of unburnt marijuana would not be sufficient to search a vehicle in the search of criminal amounts of marijuana. As the Court ruled, “In sum, we are not confident, at least on this record, that a human nose can discern reliably the presence of a criminal amount of marijuana, as distinct from an amount subject only to a civil fine." Overmeyer, 2014 WL 3117191.

In another ruling released the same day, the Court further ruled that the Commonwealth could not justify such a search in an effort to enforce federal laws against marijuana possession: “[G]iven the clear preference expressed in the 2008 initiative that police focus their attention elsewhere, Federal law does not supply an alternative basis for investigating possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, especially where the Federal government has signaled a lessened interest in prosecuting such conduct . . . ." Commonwealth v. Craan 2014 WL 3118700.