CA4 doesn’t have to decide circuit conflict of whether smell of MJ justifies search of trunk

The smell of marijuana in the passenger compartment and more about the stop and place of stop provided probable cause for search of the entire car, including the trunk. The court notes a circuit split of whether smell in the passenger compartment justifies a search of the trunk, but it doesn’t have to go there. United States v. Pankey, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 3120 (4th Cir. Feb. 9, 2018):

Indeed, we have not yet decided that issue, and there is, in fact, a circuit split on
the issue.1 However, we decline to reach this question because even applying the more defendant-friendly approach espoused by the Tenth Circuit, we conclude that the other
factors identified by the searching officer in addition to the odor of marijuana provided
probable cause to search the trunk of Pankey’s vehicle. See United States v. Loucks, 806
F.2d 208, 211 (10th Cir. 1986) (holding that, while mere odor of burnt marijuana was
insufficient to give rise to probable cause to search vehicle’s trunk, odor of burnt
marijuana on defendant’s person plus discovery of marijuana in passenger compartment
was sufficient).

Additionally, Pankey’s contention that the searching officer lacked probable cause
to search the trunk because he had probable cause to search only for marijuana and not
heroin or cocaine is without merit. …

1. The Fifth and Eighth Circuits have held that the mere odor of burnt marijuana may give rise to probable cause to search an entire vehicle, including its trunk. United States v. Winters, 221 F.3d 1039, 1041 (8th Cir. 2000); United States v. McSween, 53 F.3d 684, 686-87 (5th Cir. 1995). The Tenth Circuit has held that the mere odor of marijuana is insufficient grounds to search a vehicle’s trunk, and that “corroborating evidence of contraband” is necessary. United States v. Parker, 72 F.3d 1444, 1450 (10th Cir. 1995).

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