This Just Plain Smells

Meghan Matt, This Just Plain Smells, Baton Rouge Lawyer, Mar./Apr. 2020, at 18.

6 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2021

See all articles by Meghan Matt

Meghan Matt

Southern University Law Review

Date Written: February 15, 2020


The words “I smell the odor of marijuana” have historically granted police access to search persons and their vehicles without any further justification. However, with vastly differing marijuana and hemp laws quickly arising across America, courts have begun to disagree on how to approach search and seizure based on odor alone.

The legalization and decriminalization of hemp and marijuana for medical and recreational use makes the application of the plain-smell doctrine inconsistent and inadequate, and often prejudicial. Additionally, police use boilerplate language to bypass procedural mechanisms set in place for the protection of the people. The Article offers the solution of an odor-plus standard via alternate routes: Supreme Court decision, Congressional intervention, and through various avenues the local level. Under such a standard, officers may not use the smell of marijuana alone as reason for probable cause to conduct a warrantless search, but must also meet at least one other delineated criterion. With criminal justice reforms at the forefront of Louisiana politics, the author suggests that the state begin to lead the nation with policies such as the aforementioned standard, because the way it has been done "just plain smells."

Keywords: odor-plus standard, marijuana, search and seizure, plain-smell doctrine, odor of marijuana, legalization of marijuana, decriminalization of marijuana, medical marijuana, warrantless search

JEL Classification: K00, K1, K14, K10, K40, K42, K49, K41, K19, Q00, Q26, Z10, Z18, Z19, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Matt, Meghan, This Just Plain Smells (February 15, 2020). Meghan Matt, This Just Plain Smells, Baton Rouge Lawyer, Mar./Apr. 2020, at 18., Available at SSRN: or

Meghan Matt (Contact Author)

Southern University Law Review ( email )

2 Roosevelt Steptoe Dr.
Baton Rouge, LA 70813
United States

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