As reported by The Grand Junction Sentinel in Colorado, indications by drug-sniffing police dogs that there are controlled substances in a vehicle is in and of itself not sufficient probable cause for officers to then search the vehicle, the state Court of Appeals ruled on Thursdays.
The case, which observers said will set a precedent, perhaps beyond Colorado's borders, involved a resident of Moffat County. The three-judge appeals panel agreed with the defendant that police need more of a cause to search a vehicle without the owner's permission.
Why? Because, the court ruled, there could be legal marijuana in the car.
"Because Amendment 64 legalized possession for personal use of one ounce or less of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older in Colorado, it is no longer accurate to say, at least as a matter of state law, that an alert by a dog which can detect marijuana — but not specific amounts — can reveal only the presence of 'contraband,'" said Judge Daniel Daily for the panel, a ruling joined by Judges Jerry Jones and Michael Berger.