PA: With MMJ, smell of MJ alone isn’t PC for search of a car; more required

Because of medical marijuana being law in Pennsylvania, the smell of marijuana in a car alone is no longer enough for probable cause. More is required. Commonwealth v. Grooms, 2021 Pa. Super. LEXIS 79 (Feb. 24, 2021):

In sum, and as discussed, the police here detected the smell of marijuana coming from an unoccupied, locked, and legally parked vehicle. Consistent with Barr, the enactment of the MMA, and the rationale set forth in Hicks, we conclude that the odor of marijuana alone does not always establish probable cause. Rather, it is a factor that may contribute to a finding of probable cause when assessed under the totality-of-the-circumstances test. The trial court in this case erred in applying a per se rule for establishing probable cause. It anchored its conclusion that the police officers possessed probable cause to search Appellant’s vehicle—which was unoccupied, locked, and legally parked in a mall parking lot—solely on the odor of marijuana emanating therefrom. Accordingly, we are constrained to vacate Appellant’s judgment of sentence, reverse the order denying Appellant’s suppression motion, and remand this matter to the trial court for proceedings consistent with this decision. On remand, the trial court shall determine on the existing record and consistent with this Opinion, whether the police officers relied on, or were influenced by, any additional factors beyond the smell of marijuana, to establish probable cause to execute a warrantless search of Appellant’s vehicle.

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