One of the first questions to be raised was about the smell of cannabis emanating from vehicles on the roadway. Sgt. Ron Miller, who took the lead on answering questions during the event, said, “If we smell marijuana in a car, we can’t do anything.”
The presence of the odor of cannabis is apparently not cause to search a vehicle. The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that searching a vehicle based on the odor of cannabis is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable search or seizure by the government.
The state Supreme Court said in a unanimous ruling Thursday that police officers improperly used the smell of marijuana to search a man’s car on the New Jersey Turnpike in 2016, a decision that allows the man to withdraw his guilty plea to a weapons offense.
After six years with the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Stosh is at the height of his career -- he’s busted drug dealers and found large amounts of narcotics in cars.
But because the German Shepard was trained on detecting marijuana and small amounts of the drug are now legal in New Jersey, Stosh got the pink slip.
He and three other K-9s in the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office were fired-- or sent to early retirement.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has fined the operator of a marijuana grow facility on Route 22 after receiving complaints from residents about odors.
In response to two verified complaints, the state issued two administrative enforcement orders requiring Verano New Jersey to cease causing odors in violation of the New Jersey Air Pollution Control Act, according to a DEP spokesperson.
The DEP also issued fines of $500 and $1,000. Verano has requested an administrative law hearing on the DEP’s actions, according to the spokesperson.
Lawmakers are rallying around new legislation that may earn the approval of the Murphy administration. This proposed legislation would create civil penalties and warnings for underage users of the drug – a chief concern of Gov. Phil Murphy who has said that the state Legislature's initial plan didn't restrict underage adults and children for using the drug.
The new legislation, however, would effectively end searches of underaged people who are under suspicion of using or possessing the drug. Smelling the drug's odor would also not be a valid reason to investigate.