• Suzanna Thallman

Can Police Smell Cannabis in Your Car?


Cannabis Car

Some could never imagine the day would come where we could ride to the dispensary, pick up our cannabis and drive back home with it LEGALLY and start medicating. Even though marijuana has been legalized for medical use in Ohio, patients still wonder if police can actually still smell it on them? It's 2020, there are countless ways to transport your medication that is smell proof, although some still believe that since they have a medical card, HOW you transport your cannabis-- doesn't matter. This is not true. We want our patients to be safe, and not have a reason to involve law enforcement for simply not being informed of how to properly travel with your medication. So whats the best method of transporting your medication you ask?


A new study reveals that when cannabis is packaged in double vacuumed sealed bags, the scent cannot be identified by the human nose. The "In Plain Smell" doctrine, was created so that if a police officer detected the scent of marijuana they have the right to search your property. This law is a double edged sword. A police officer wouldn't have probable cause to search a car for cocaine, but would have to say it smells like marijuana in order to search the vehicle for other illicit drugs, which then leaves the door open for profiling. Not cool, but we can't have drugs being transported illegally either... so does our marijuana REALLY stink? Do police officers REALLY smell it?


This is what led to a series of experiments regarding how cannabis was packaged and if it was detectable by the human nose. The experiment was conducted by having blindfolded participants sniff out the cannabis from "four different packing methods based on real life examples such as; Ziploc bags, thin plastic produce bags, pop-top canisters, and a vacuum-sealed heavy plastic bag. They also tested an open bowl with marijuana as a baseline. After filling the packages with marijuana, they left them in large buckets for an hour to let the odor accumulate and then asked the study participants to smell and choose." The experiment also chose to use different strains with different terpenes so that they could determine if one smells more pungent than others. The study showed that the marijuana packaged in the ziplock bag, produce bag, and the open bowl were immediately identified. However, the vacuum sealed bags were almost completely undetectable.


With this being said, here in Ohio when leaving a dispensary it is imperative that your medication remain unopened, and in the original packaging. Although law enforcement is up to speed with medical marijuana laws in Ohio, we often tell patients to treat this the same as if you driving with alcohol. You wouldn't open it up before you got home, so treat your medication the same way. We also recommend purchasing a lock box and keeping it in your trunk. Several dispensaries in Ohio provide you with smell proof bags, similar to the ones discussed in this experiment. These bags eliminate any smell put off by cannabis, are child-proof (even adult proof sometimes, haha!), and can be re-used the next time you head to the dispensary! Local dispensary in Bowling Green, Ohio, Soothe provides patients with smell proof bags that they are able to bring back in and re-use them the next time they come in for their medication. Dispensary Manager Mimi, states that "it makes the patients feel good that they are able to "go green" and help the environment even if its just one bag at a time!"


Although dispensaries are not required to provide patients with this type of packaging- in regards to the study and personal experience this is one of the better methods of packaging if you are worried about the smell!