Even if it’s never happened to you, you’ve probably heard stories of police officers using the smell test to find marijuana. Essentially, an officer can pull a car over, and, if he or she smells marijuana when talking to the driver, that is probable cause to search the vehicle and the people in the car to see if they have any on them.
In some cases, police dogs are used, as they can be trained to smell different types of drugs. Often, though, officers will do this on their own, without the assistance of a dog.
Some have argued that this is not a very good test. For one thing, there are other substances that give off similar smells, so this means officers can search a car when smelling something completely different, as long as it’s close enough to marijuana for the officer to make a mistake.
On top of that, people have argued that this is very subjective. It all depends on what that specific officer thinks. Would another officer come to the same conclusion if he or she were exposed to the same smell?
Finally, critics argue that the smell test can typically not be investigated or verified later on. It’s impossible to prove whether or not the officer really smelled marijuana. As such, an officer could theoretically lie about smelling it just to search the car, and it’d be very hard to prove it. The officer could even accidentally end up finding marijuana, whether or not the smell was notable.
That being said, the important thing to remember is that the courts in Florida do look at the smell test as valid, so it counts as probable cause. If you’ve been arrested after a search, be sure you know your rights.
Source: Counter Current News, Retrieved April 13, 2016 Jackson Marciana, accessed April 13, 2016