Legislation to End Searches Based on Odor of Marijuana Heads to Governor’s Desk

Richmond, VA: During the 2020 Special Session, Virginia House and Senate lawmakers have finalized and passed legislation, Senate Bill 5029 by Senator Louise Lucas (D-18) and House Bill 5058 by Delegate Patrick Hope (D-47), that severely limits the ability of police to engage in warrantless searches solely on basis of the odor of marijuana.

The bills, which now heads to Governor Ralph Northam for approval, states that “no law-enforcement officer may lawfully 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.”
Lawmakers this spring decriminalized low-level marijuana possession offenses, reducing penalties to a $25 civil fine. That law took effect on July 1.
Commenting on the advancement of the legislation, NORML’s Development Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as the Executive Director of Virginia NORML said, “While this will certainly decrease non-essential interactions between law enforcement and otherwise law-abiding Virginians, it is only by legalizing the responsible use of cannabis by adults that the Commonwealth can end its failed experiment with prohibition and begin repairing the decades of damage.”