Illinois Committee Votes to Ban Police From Using Marijuana Odor as Probable Cause for Vehicle Searches

A bill that would explicitly prohibit law enforcement from using the smell of marijuana as probable cause for a vehicle search has been passed by a key Senate committee in Illinois.

Probable CauseSenate Bill 125 was filed by Senator Rachel Ventura along with eight cosponsors, all Democrat. It was passed today by the Senate Special Committee on Criminal Law and Public Safety in a 9 to 1 vote.

The proposed law states that the Illinois Vehicle Code is amended by changing Section 11-502.15 as follows:

The odor of burnt or raw cannabis in a motor vehicle by itself shall not constitute probable cause for the search of a motor vehicle or person.

Although marijuana was legalized in Illinois in 2020, the law did not change the fact that police can still use an allegation of marijuana odor from conducted a probablyecause-approved search of someone’s vehicle.

This new law would fix what proponents call a loophole in the law by preventing law enforcement from using as probable cause the smell of what’s now a legal substance.

The full text of Senate Bill 125 can be found by clicking here.

A similar measure to prevent marijuana odor from being used as probable cause was passed recently by its initial Senate committee in Maryland. That measure states: “Providing that, with a certain exception, a finding or determination of reasonable suspicion or probable cause relating to possession of contraband or other criminal activity may not be based solely on evidence of the odor of certain cannabis, the possession of or suspicion of possession of cannabis, or the presence of money in proximity to cannabis.”

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