A police officer could conduct a warrantless search of a automotive that “reeks of weed” despite the fact that the motive force has a legitimate medical marijuana card, a Blair County Decide dominated late final week.
However the case earlier than Decide Timothy M. Sullivan left open the query whether or not a search of a automotive pushed by an Altoona man who was stopped by metropolis Patrol Officer Garrett Trent on Jan. 16, 2020, as a consequence of a site visitors violation close to UPMC Altoona, was legitimate.
Whereas the motive force, Danny Tallie, 51, was finally cited for a abstract site visitors offense, the officer’s consideration, upon approaching the automotive, was drawn to the odor of marijuana.
He requested Tallie if he had a medical marijuana card. The driving force offered him with a card that was legitimate.
The officer then contacted Blair County District Legal professional Peter J. Weeks and informed him the circumstances of the site visitors cease, together with a press release that the automobile “reeks of weed,” and “it’s contemporary.”
Trent is a member of the Blair County Drug Process Power and is aware of the odor of marijuana, it was identified.
After consulting with the District Legal professional, the officer once more approached Tallie and informed him he was involved in regards to the odor from the automotive, at which level Tallie admitted that he had a roach, or a blunt of smoked marijuana, wrapped in cigar paper within the automobile.
Occupants have been faraway from the automobile and a search was carried out.
No further medicine or drug paraphernalia was discovered, and the officer said that Tallie was cooperative with police in the course of the search.
The roach, consisting of “inexperienced leafy marijuana,” examined optimistic for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Tallie was charged with use and possession of drug paraphernalia as a result of it stays unlawful to smoke marijuana.
The case ended up in Sullivan’s courtroom when Tallie’s Hollidaysburg protection legal professional, Phillip O. Robertson, filed a pretrial petition in search of to suppress the proof — the roach.
Sullivan, in a 14-page opinion, reviewed the complexity of the problem earlier than him.
He reported that previous to Pennsylvania’s passage of the Medical Marijuana Act, when an officer smelled the odor of marijuana it indicated the fee of a criminal offense.
This meant a police officer had possible trigger to conduct a warrantless search of a automobile.
The choose defined that issues have modified.
“Lawful customers of medical marijuana don’t give up their Fourth Modification rights which shield them from unreasonable searches and seizures by police,” he said in his opinion.
He dominated the “plain odor” of burnt or uncooked marijuana is not indicative of an unlawful or legal act, however he clarified the odor “could however point out an unlawful or legal act, in order to offer possible trigger for a warrantless search by police, as a result of possession of marijuana stays usually unlawful underneath (Pennsylvania’s Managed Substance Act.)”
The choose continued, noting the odor of marijuana permits the “probabilistic suspicion” of legal exercise as a result of most residents can not legally devour marijuana.
The presentation of a medical marijuana card, he dominated, doesn’t “robotically defeat a discovering that possible trigger supported a police officer’s warrantless search.”
Turning his consideration to the Tallie case, Sullivan dominated the site visitors cease by the police officer was legitimate.
He then refused to suppress the roach, declaring that the proof in opposition to Tallie didn’t outcome from the search of the automobile however was given to the officer by Tallie.
“At the moment, Patrolman Trent had affordable suspicion of illegal exercise,” Sullivan said.
And, he reasoned, because the roach was voluntarily surrendered by Tallie, the proof was lawfully obtained.
He went on to notice that the search of the automobile turned up no further proof of drug use and due to this fact, he said, “there isn’t a proof to be suppressed.”
He upheld the drug paraphernalia cost in opposition to Tallie, emphasizing that medical marijuana might not be smoked or “consumed in edible kind besides as particularly allowed” underneath the current legal guidelines.
Tallie’s subsequent look in court docket is scheduled for a trial listing evaluation on Aug. 2, Sullivan ordered.