Illinois Senate Votes to Prevent Smell of Marijuana From Being Used as Probable Cause for Searches

An Illinois bill that would explicitly prevent law enforcement from using the smell of burnt or unburnt marijuana from being used as probable cause to justify a police search has been passed by the state’s full Senate.

Under Senate Bill 125, the Illinois Vehicle Code is amended by changing Section 11-502.15 to add the following statement: “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.”

The bill, which would also remove the requirement that marijuana be stored in an odor-proof container, was passed today by the Senate 33 to 22. It now goes to the House of Representatives, with passage there sending it to Governor J. B. Pritzker for consideration. It will need to be passed in committee before it can be voted on by the full House.

“People, especially people of color, are unnecessarily pulled over far too often,” said Senator Rachel Ventura, the bill’s lead sponsor. “The odor of cannabis alone shouldn’t be one of those reasons. Cannabis is legal in Illinois and it’s a pungent scent that can stick to clothes for extended periods of time.”

A similar bill in Maryland was just given approval by the state’s full House of Representatives.

The full text of Senate Bill 125, which is just one page, can be found here.

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