Ability of Cops to Smell Marijuana Challenged

Believe it or not, there is an expert on the matter


After Chicago police curbed Jonathan Stoffels in December 2008, one of the arresting officers said he saw a leafy substance inside the Lincoln Navigator and also took note of a strong odor of marijuana.

That led to a search that allegedly yielded 10 grams of pot inside a mason jar, $8,600 in cash, what appeared to be drug recipes and a drug ledger — evidence that could have added to the drug manufacturing case that federal agents were already building against Stoffels, 36, of Plainfield, and his cohorts.

Last week, a federal judge tossed the evidence — in part because the jar had been destroyed while in police custody. But Stoffels' defense attorney had also raised an unusual challenge to the second reason for the search, that the officer caught whiffs of marijuana from Stoffels' car.