Attorney Sankey Recently Quoted by Quincy Patriot Ledger on Police Dogs and Probable Cause to Search
Attorney Jeffrey Sankey was recently quoted by The Quincy Patriot Ledger in an article discussing how Massachusetts’ gradual legalization of marijuana has rendered police dogs trained to detect the smell of marijuana irrelevant. Attorney Sankey explained that under the new law, “Whether it’s a dog or a police officer, essentially the smell of marijuana is no longer going to lead to probable cause” to search.
In a blog article from 2014, Massachusetts Court Bars Warrantless Searches of Vehicles Based on Marijuana Odor, Attorney Sankey discussed decisions issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court where the Court refused to uphold warrantless searches of motor vehicles that were based upon police officers detecting the smell of marijuana emanating from the vehicles. Because Massachusetts decriminalized one ounce or less of marijuana in 2008, the Court found it “dubious” that an officer could determine by smell alone that a criminal amount of marijuana – more than one ounce – was inside the vehicle.
In practice, the Court’s holding has extended to dogs, and the recent legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts has effectively rendered useless dogs that were trained to detect the smell of marijuana and other illegal drugs. Because these dogs are unable to communicate whether they are smelling a legal amount of marijuana or an illegal drug, they cannot be used to acquire probable cause for a warrantless search of a vehicle.
To read the entire Patriot Ledger article, follow the link below: