July 8, 2013

Police Need Warrant To Open Mail Packages That Smell Like Marijuana In California

July 8, 2013
usps mail marijuana fed ex

usps mail marijuana fed exHave you ever sent marijuana through the mail? I never have, but I know a lot of people that have…I mean, er, uh, I don’t know what you mean officer :) Sending marijuana through the mail has been a growing trend on the West Coast, and it may have gotten a little bit easier last week, at least mailing from California. The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled last week that police need a warrant to open packages in the mail that smell like marijuana. According to the Los Angeles Times:

In a ruling written by Justice Goodwin Liu, the state high court dismissed arguments by Santa Barbara County prosecutors that contraband could be searched under a theory that would extend the “plain sight” test to “plain smell.”  Police are generally entitled to seize evidence that is in plain sight.

Although officers had the legal right to take the FedEx package, they should have obtained a warrant before  opening it, the court said.

“There is no dispute as to whether the police lawfully seized the package without a warrant,” Liu wrote. “Because there was no justification for an immediate search of the package once it was seized, the police had no derivative authority to search the package later at the police station without a warrant.”

This case of course does not apply outside of California, but it may be referenced by other court cases out of the state, or possibly be appealed to the United States Supreme Court. I don’t recommend mailing marijuana, but if you must, maybe try to do it from California ;)


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