For now, it is still illegal to possess recreational marijuana in Florida. However, it is also illegal for police officers to illegally search someone’s vehicle in order to find evidence. Those two issues are the center of a current criminal case in Miami-Dade County.
According to media reports, the case involves a male defendant who was arrested on drug charges in 2018 after police officers claimed they could smell marijuana coming from his vehicle. During the search, the officers found over 20 grams of marijuana and an undisclosed amount of cocaine. The defendant, who does not have a Florida medical marijuana card, was charged with possession of cannabis over 20 grams, possession of cannabis with the intent to sell or deliver and possession of cocaine.
However, the defendant’s lawyer has motioned the court to suppress the drug evidence, claiming it was obtained through an illegal search. According to the motion, the increasing legalization of marijuana means that the odor of cannabis is becoming more common. This means that officers should not be able to use the alleged smell of marijuana as probable cause to search a person, vehicle or home as the odor could be coming from a legal source. On the other hand, courts in Arizona and Washington have ruled that police can use the odor of marijuana as probable cause for searches even though it could be legal. A hearing to consider the motion has been scheduled for March.
Defendants facing drug charges could seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. The attorney could review the details of the case and determine if the defendant’s rights were violated at any point during search and seizure. If they were, legal counsel could push for the charges to be dropped.