Arizona Rules Marijuana Odor Insufficient for Warrant

2015-07-23 18:43:37

Arizona is not exactly known for being a tolerant state when it comes to the kind herb. However, a recent court decision is changing the climate for cannabis consumers in the state.


A recent Court of Appeals decision in the Grand Canyon State determined that it is unconstitutional for police to use the smell of fresh or freshly smoked cannabis as probable cause for searches and arrests. The basis for the decision: The 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).

Judge Peter Eckerstrom, writing for the majority, said:

“Medical marijuana use pursuant to AMMA is lawful under Arizona law. Therefore its scent alone does not disclose whether a crime has occurred.”

Arizona’s AMMA law permits people with a doctor’s recommendation to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks. Caregivers are allowed to cultivate up to 60 plants, while dispensaries can grow an unspecified number of plants (at an off-site grow facility). It covers the following conditions: Alzheimer’sALS, wasting syndrome, cancerchronic painCrohn’sglaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, nausea, muscle spasmsPTSD, and seizures.

The court based its decision on the fact that legitimate medical marijuana patients would be deemed “second-class citizens,” “losing their rights to privacy and security, including privacy within their own homes.”


The judge decided that a warrant cannot be justified by behavior that might be legal — a change brought about by the AMMA in 2010. Eckerstrom also emphasized that the AMMA law does not include public consumption of cannabis and that there are still many valid reasons that an officer can arrest a suspect.

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