Can officers search your car if they smell cannabis?
Although the U.S. Constitution protects you against unreasonable search and seizure, law enforcement can bypass the need for a warrant by showing reasonable cause for a search. Police generally need to show that they had reason to believe you were breaking the law. This often happens during traffic stops. In the past, officers in Florida could search your vehicle if they smelled marijuana. However, due to a change in Florida law, the odor of cannabis or hemp is no longer legal grounds for a police search.
According to The Palm Beach Post, when the state legalized hemp, it put law enforcement on high alert because identifying the difference between marijuana and hemp is now important. Because of this, any found substance has to go through testing to determine the THC content. Only that above .3 is illegal. Anything else is legal under the new law.
So, if an officer smells marijuana in your vehicle during a traffic stop, the officer cannot definitively know whether the smell is marijuana or hemp because they both smell the same. In addition, trained drug dogs cannot smell the difference between hemp and marijuana.
In short, the smell of marijuana or assumed marijuana is no longer probable cause since it could very well be legal hemp. This information is for education and is not legal advice.