Smell of raw cannabis not probable cause for car search, Whiteside County court rules

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 3:17 PM CST
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MORRISON, Ill. (WIFR) - Friday, Judge Daniel P. Dalton, ruled that “there are a number of wholly innocent reasons a person or the vehicle in which they are in may smell of raw cannabis,” saying that the smell of raw cannabis alone is not enough evidence to search a car in the State of Illinois.

Almost two years ago, the state legalized cannabis for recreational use. After that, however, Illinois police officers still used the odor of cannabis as a basis to search motor vehicles during traffic stops.

On December 3, 2020, an Illinois State Trooper stopped a vehicle on I-88 in rural Whiteside County for speeding.

After smelling the odor of raw cannabis, the officer searched the vehicle and arrested passenger Vincent Molina for possession of just over two grams of cannabis.

Molina fought the charge and won.

“This case was much more important than me,” Molina says. “It was about our right to be free from unreasonable searches for legal conduct.”

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