Cannabis on JPR

Philadelphia police are searching more cars for marijuana — but finding less of it, critics say

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      In the last five years, police listed the smell of weed as the reason for more than 25,000 car stops and a growing number of searches. In the first quarter of 2019, searches related to the smell of marijuana surged to the highest level at least since 2014. Police identified the odor in 3,300 searches in that quarter, a number that has increased tenfold.

      At the same time, the “hit rate” — or rate at which contraband was found — plummeted to 9.7%, down from 40% in 2014.

      That’s according to the Defender Association of Philadelphia, which, after analyzing thousands of police stops, is arguing that the odor of marijuana can no longer be considered probable cause for officers to believe a crime has occurred and conduct a search.

      The defender argued that the low hit rates — combined with stark racial disparities — indicate that Philadelphia police are just not reliable when it comes to sniffing out marijuana, either because they don’t know what it smells like or because they’re falsely listing the smell as the basis for a search.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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