Florida’s Biggest Police Force Stops Detaining Persons More than Pot Smell


The inform-tale smell of cannabis smoke has lengthy been law enforcement’s finest excuse for questioning and detaining men and women more than suspected cannabis possession. And police normally use “marijuana odor” as a pretense for cease-and-frisks and searches, irrespective of whether they in fact detected a smell or not. But in Florida, the mere odor of cannabis will no longer be sufficient trigger to detain and search men and women suspected of consuming or possessing weed. Not simply because Florida police departments are relaxing their enforcement of marijuana laws. But rather, simply because Florida has legalized hemp, and officers do not have the coaching or the technologies to distinguish cannabis from its non-psychoactive cousin.

Florida’s New Legal Hemp Law Is Altering How Police Enforce Marijuana Laws

Following the U.S. federal government legalized hemp late final year, states have been moving to revise their personal marijuana laws to carve out space for legal hemp. Beneath the blanket prohibition of cannabis, a lot of state laws didn’t make a distinction in between hemp—now defined as cannabis with significantly less than .three % THC—and the types of cannabis men and women consume for recreational and wellness causes.

But in light of the lifting of the federal ban on hemp and hemp solutions, which variety from clothes, meals and textiles to cannabidiol (CBD) solutions, states are bringing their personal guidelines in line with the new federal law.

And in Florida, the legalization of hemp is causing an exciting knockdown impact: it is altering the way police enforce laws against marijuana. So when Florida’s legal hemp law went into impact July 1, 2019, removing hemp and hemp solutions from the state’s list of controlled substances and for that reason creating it legal to possess, Florida police departments started instructing officers that the smell of cannabis alone could no longer be just trigger for detaining a particular person or conducting a search.

In spite of the big distinction in between hemp and weed—their respective quantities of THC—the two breeds of cannabis have significantly in frequent. In the initial spot, hemp and weed have practically the exact same odor. And to the untrained or inexperienced, the plants can appear and really feel pretty related. Certainly, as far as their legal definitions go, the only distinction in between marijuana and hemp is which side of the .three % THC they fall on. Go more than, and the law considers that to be an illegal substance. Keep beneath, and you have got legal hemp.

Miami-Dade Police Now Want “Odor Plus” to Detain Persons for Weed

And it is precisely simply because of their similarities, and the apparent difficulty officers have telling the distinction, that Florida police departments are altering their enforcement of marijuana laws. Prior to hemp was legalized, the alleged “smell of marijuana” was sufficient to cease, search and detain somebody. Now, having said that, smell alone is not sufficient.

As an alternative, Florida police officers now have to make “odor plus” in order to cease somebody for suspected cannabis possession. And according to a memo sent to the Miami New Occasions by the Florida Police Legal Bureau, “plus” suggests added things that would lead an officer to suspect the presence of illicit marijuana and not legal hemp. “Accordingly, officers can no longer search a car primarily based solely on the odor of cannabis,” the memo reads.

The memo defines “odor plus” as such as things like indicators of impairment, any admissions or statements a suspect may make relating to marijuana or any information and facts or intelligence that suggests illegal activity. If an officer can articulate any of these things, then they can detain and search a suspect.

Implementation of the policy shift started in sheriff’s departments in Central Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel. And on July 19, the alter was adopted by Florida’s biggest police force, the Miami-Dade Police Division. Other police departments across Florida municipalities are following suit.

Will Legal Hemp Make It Tougher For Police to Bust Persons for Weed?

All round, the new “odor plus” needs really should make it far more hard for officers to cease, detain and even arrest men and women for suspected marijuana possession. And Florida’s legalization of hemp could introduce additional adjustments to the way police investigate alleged cannabis possession. For instance, the Florida Division of Police only tests cannabis samples for the presence of THC, not irrespective of whether THC quantities go more than the .three % limit, according to the Miami New Occasions. But now that plants with THC beneath that quantity are legal, police will most likely have to adopt new testing procedures.


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