Daytona Beach, FL – Prior to July 1, 2019, the smell of marijuana gave police enough probable cause to search a car and arrest someone for marijuana possession. That’s no longer the case. Law enforcement agencies across the state, including the Daytona Beach Police Department, are changing how they police pot.
DBPD Chief Craig Capri created a memorandum on how the issue should be handled. In the memo, officers should still seize cannabis and file complaint affidavits. Something that has changed is that officers should not rely solely on the smell of cannabis. Officers are instructed to use a “sniff plus” method. An example would be: An officer conducting a traffic stop smells the odor of cannabis. Before searching, they should ask if there is any marijuana or hemp in the vehicle. If the answer is “No,” the threshold to detain and search has been reached. If the person stopped answers “Yes” and says what they have is marijuana, the officer can then detain and search. Other reasons for a search would be finding drug paraphernalia, such as scales and baggies.
Capri went on to state in the memo that “there is no clear answer at this time as to what to do if the subject advises that they have hemp.” He recommends that officers err on the side of caution when determining if a search is warranted and confer with their supervisor. Capri reminds officers, “Either way remember do not make a custodial arrest.
Plans are in the works for command staff to create a more permanent practice and procedure which will then be presented to all sworn employees through training.