Given that attitudes (and laws) about marijuana have undergone some dramatic changes in recent years, you may not think that the mere odor of marijuana clinging to your clothes or possessions would be a problem.

You’d be wrong. Marijuana is still mostly illegal in Louisiana and remains completely illegal under federal law. If an officer detects the odor of marijuana on you or coming from your car, that could justify a legitimate search — and lead to serious charges, depending on what they find.

Take, for example, the case of a Louisiana woman who was arrested back in March after she tried to bail out a friend. She showed up to the Terrebonne Parish Jail to bail out a prisoner being held on drug charges with $5,000 in cash. According to the officers who were present, the money reeked of marijuana.

That (and the sizable amount of cash) was enough to justify a detective’s suspicions that the woman might, herself, be involved in the drug trade. After she got into her car, the detective initiated a search that turned up more than $39,000 in cash, a number of prescription pills and a stolen EBT card. Officers then used a warrant to search the woman’s home and found even more drugs, cash and paraphernalia that’s commonly used for drug distribution.

Under search and seizure laws, officers can perform a warrantless search whenever they have reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is going on in a public place. It’s important not to give an officer any justification for such a search, no matter what the circumstances.

If you’re facing drug charges, the first thing you should do is find experienced legal representation to protect your interests.

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