Court tosses heroin as evidence against men initially ordered out of car due to the odor of pot

The Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled today that heroin found in a car after the driver was pulled over for a traffic infraction can't be used as evidence against him or his passenger, because the only reason state troopers ordered the two men out was the aroma of burned pot, which by itself is no longer an indication of criminal activity in Massachusetts.

The two men were under surveillance by state troopers when they left the home of a man suspected of murder in 2009. When the driver failed to signal a turn, troopers pulled them over and, on the basis of the pot odor, ordered them out and searched the car - finding a bag of heroin in the car's center console. The two men then tried running away, but were quickly recaptured.

But for the second time this year, the court ruled that absent any other indication of criminal activity, the odor of pot is no longer enough to order somebody out of a car. The rulings come in the wake of a decision by the Supreme Judicial Court last year to toss similar evidence found after a Jamaica Plain man was pulled over and ordered out after cops smelled pot.

Prosecutors said the troopers also had "a reasonable fear for their safety" because of the link between the car and the murder suspect, but the court rejected that argument because the two men troopers saw getting into the car were white, while the suspect was dark-skinned.

The court did give prosecutors a tiny victory. The two men initially argued the stop itself was illegal because the failure to signal didn't cause any other drivers any problems. The court, however, said, sorry, you need to signal even if the traffic is only "light."

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Comments

so...

It's OK to smoke pot while you are driving?
This should be akin to the open container law for booze.
If the cop sees me sipping a beer, can he pull me over for that?

New line? You mean the

New line? You mean the loophole that cops have used for decades to illegally search a vehicle without a warrant? I'm glad they finally put a stop to it in Mass

Something you probably haven't read

Research!

Guess what - pot use does not cause impairment while driving.Even when people were intentionally intoxicated and drove a closed course, they did so a bit more slowly, but not with impairment.

http://norml.org/library/item/marijuana-and-drivin...

Yes, I know - NORML has an agenda. However, they list the citations and links for the studies they summarize here where appropriate so you can pull the studies and go read them yourself ... or just go to pubmed and you can find your own if you like.

Huh?

I am thoroughly pro-pot, pro-legalization, etc. but seriously? Having smoked plenty of pot in my day, I just can't believe this. It should be totally illegal to have pot "in use" in a vehicle.

You are welcome to present other research

Like I said - NORML has an agenda - I linked to them here because they present a good list of the key studies.

However, I have yet to see a solid simulator study or risk analysis study that didn't show that pot does not affect the critical skills needed for driving or driving performance. If you know of one, then please link.

There was a time when everybody "just knew" that any and all alcohol use "must" be harmful to cardiovascular health. Then they did the research.

Cardiovascular health?

I have never heard of any connection--proved or disproved--between alcohol and heart disease. At any rate, I'm not claiming to be a researcher--but no way would I trust the reaction times, etc, of someone who was high to safely operate a motor vehicle. I think most of us have seen people too high on pot--or been there ourselves--to successfully open a bag of chips, let alone drive.

That's because ... RESEARCH

It was long hypothosized and widely believed that ANY drinking would damage cardiovascular health and increase risk of heart disease.

It was also believed that the greater the alcohol intake, the greater the risk of heart disease.

Then came the research ... and it wasn't so simple. Heart disease risk was found to DECLINE for the first couple of drinks per day, and then it rose as the researchers expected - and physicians widely believed - that it would.

Repeating an "everybody knows" or even "reasonable scientific hypothesis" multiple times over and over does not get you anywhere toward actually understanding the physiological phenomenon at hand. Your biochemistry doesn't give a shit what you believe, or what you think is reasonable, or what you have or haven't heard about, nor does mine: our bodies do what they do regardless, and all the "sensible" or "believable" hypothoses in the world DO NOT equate with reality and are not equivalent to research and results - even if that research and those results don't support your beliefs, hypothoses, or "common knowledge".

I have been a nurse for

I have been a nurse for almost 40 yrs. and I never heard the hypothesis that drinking caused CV disease. Liver disease, yes. Risky behavior and accidents, yes. Smoking and CV disease, yes. Of course the two behaviors are correlated and before bars were smoke-free, one ran the risk of CV disease from second-hand smoke by drinking in one.

Ok...Let's do some more research

...and until then, don't get behind the wheel of a car while you're high, OK? I mean seriously--the "research" quoted on the NORML site isn't all that reassuring--hey, the high people were impaired BUT they know they're impaired so they drive slower! I mean...would you buy this from your teenager? Your pothead boyfriend? "But mom--I KNEW I was impaired!"

smoke a joint for safety

Seriously? A sensible person shouldn't even answer the TELEPHONE when they are stoned. (Hi, Mom [oh shit!]) However, if you read that study article you do see that the difference between alcohol intoxication and being stoned, is that stoned people know they are stupid whereas drunk people lose their perspective, so to speak, and overestimate their abilities. People like me would self-select out and only those of you who can suck down a bong and then drive would be on the road. Heck, maybe there would even be less road rage and aggressive behavior.

Difference

They weren't detained for suspicion of OUI. They were stopped for a moving violation (no turn signal). In the process, the cops smelled pot.

In the past, that meant a misdemeanor maybe even a felony. That gives the cops the right to then search the car and anything they find is admissible as new crimes.

In the present with small marijuana possession decriminalized to a civil citation, there's no criminal offense from just smelling pot to give the cops the right to search the car. If the cop had wanted to do a field sobriety test to determine if the driver was under the influence (the same as if he stopped him and smelled alcohol on his breath), he probably could have justified it, but he didn't.