JEFFERSON CITY – A newly proposed bill in the Missouri House would make warrantless searches based on “the odor of marijuana alone” illegal.

Rep. Ian Mackey (D-Richmond Heights) pre-filed the legislation Wednesday after being inspired by a recent ruling on the same matter in Illinois.

“Medicinal marijuana is legal in Missouri,” Rep. Mackey said. “It makes sense because of these new laws [the smell of marijuana alone] should not be a justifiable reason for a police officer to begin searching property or a particular individual.”

The bill was filed as House Bill 1867. The language in it is short. The only sentence of the proposed legislation reads, “Notwithstanding any provision of law, the odor of marijuana alone shall not provide a law enforcement officer with probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of a motor vehicle, home, or other private property.” 

Rep. Mackey anticipates revisions as the bill is discussed. The similar bill in Illinois has language that differentiates the smell of unsmoked cannabis flower versus the smell of smoked marijuana. Mackey anticipates potential changes to be discussed and possibly added to his bill. 

In an interview with the representative, he gave an example of if a person is pulled over for a traffic stop after purchasing cannabis at a dispensary, that the scent alone would not be enough to execute a warrantless search.

He went on to clarify his stance.

“Obviously smoking marijuana and driving impaired is illegal, as it should be. And so if someone has glassy eyes, if someone’s movements indicate that they’re impaired obviously that is still well within the purview of a warrantless search, but not the smell of cannabis alone."

A hearing for the bill is not yet scheduled on the House calendar.

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