Commonwealth v. Barr

In Commonwealth v. Barr, the Superior Court recognized the changing marijuana laws’ effect on a police officer’s probable cause determination. After he was pulled over by the police, officers smelled burnt and raw marijuana emanating from the defendant’s car. The defendant subsequently showed his medical marijuana card to the officers. Nonetheless, the officers searched the car. The Court held that the odor of marijuana alone, absent any other circumstances, cannot provide individualized suspicion of criminal activity. What the odor of marijuana does provide to police is a general, probabilistic suspicion of criminal activity based on the fact that most citizens cannot legally consume marijuana. Thus, it is a factor that can contribute to a finding of probable cause, consistent with prior precedent, assuming some other circumstances supply more individualized suspicion that the activity is criminal.

Timothy-Oliver-Barr

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