Smelling Like Marijuana Is Not Illegal

While there are still many marijuana-related ways a person can get sent to the slammer in the United States, smelling as if you reside in an eternal hotbox is not one of them. However, this did not prevent administrators at a Massachusetts high school from calling police earlier this week after receiving reports that one of their cafeteria employees reeked of weed.

The cops rolled into Leominster High School on Tuesday afternoon in response to a distress call over the odor of marijuana radiating from a member of the kitchen staff. Acting on the old adage “where there is smoke, there is fire,” or, in this case, “where there is skunk, there’s a stoner,” officers from the local police department decided to shakedown the man, whose name has not been released, in hopes of determining if he was in possession of the sweet leaf.

Police found no sign of marijuana, paraphernalia, or any other contraband to justify issuing the man a citation. The cook was clean.

“We spoke to the guy. We searched him. He had nothing on him,” Lieutenant Michael Goldman told The Sentinel & Enterprise. “You can smell like marijuana all you want. We can’t do anything about it.”

Despite the fact that no laws were broken by the man’s alleged olfaction infraction, the school banned him from ever returning to campus. Chartwells School Dining Services, the company contracted to provide school lunches for the district, issued a statement following the incident that suggested they were conducting an internal investigation into the matter.

“We’re aware of the investigation and the individual has been removed from the school,” the company wrote. “We can’t offer anything else at this time as this is a pending investigation.”

There is a possibility, due to the political nature of the beast, that this man could lose his job even though he did nothing to break the law or even violate school policy. In fact, since authorities were unable to locate any evidence that proved marijuana was the official culprit behind the man’s pungent stench, termination could be found unlawful.

A study published several years ago about marijuana odor determined that the smell of weed alone should not be allowed in establishing probable cause because pot does not have an exclusive scent. Researchers found that the aroma of marijuana was created by hundreds of terpinoids that could also be found in a plethora of other plants and animals from marigolds and skunks to decomposing garbage.

Interestingly, a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled last summer that the odor of marijuana could no longer be used to justify a search. The verdict was issued in respect to the state’s decriminalization laws, which make the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a civil offense, punishable with a $100 fine. The judge’s decision argued that it was impossible for police to accurately determine if a person was in possession of more than the legal limit simply by the smell of raw cannabis.

Therefore, the cafeteria worker appears to have a solid defense, if his employers take steps to fire him over this debacle.

Perhaps one day, in the not-so-distant future, the legend of aroma-free weed will become a reality. In 2013, High Times reported on a secret laboratory in Vancouver engaged in the genetic manipulation of cannabis DNA for the purpose of creating borderline bionic buds. One of their most prized strains was one they claimed was completely odorless.

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