Law ending searches based on marijuana odor takes effect March 2021

Law ending searches based on marijuana odor takes effect March 2021
This is a photo of a marijuana plant. (Source: Pexels/stock image)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A law that will end police searches based on marijuana odor will take effect in March 2021 after lawmakers passed the legislation as part of a special session.

Senate Bill 5029 states “no law-enforcement officer may lawfully stop, search, or seize any person, place, or thing solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana, and no evidence discovered or obtained as a result of such unlawful search or seizure shall be admissible in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding.”

The bills do allow for searches in an airport or if the violation happens in a commercial motor vehicle.

“This is another victory for commonsense marijuana law reform in Virginia. Decreasing non-essential interactions between law enforcement and otherwise law-abiding Virginians is now more important than ever. However, it is only the legalization of the responsible use of cannabis by adults that will end the Commonwealth’s failed experiment with prohibition and begin undoing the decades of damage done primarily to young, poor, Black, and Brown Virginians,” the Development Director of NORML and the Executive Director of Virginia NORML, Jenn Michelle Pedini, said.

In the spring, lawmakers also decriminalized personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, reducing the penalty to a $25 civil fine. That law took effect on July 1.

The law ending the searches will take effect on March 1, 2021.

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