The state's highest court on Monday upheld a warrant that Amherst police used in 2017 to search a commercial building for evidence of illegal marijuana cultivation, leading to a marijuana trafficking charge.
In in the case, Commonwealth v. Gregory Long, the defendant had challenged the warrant's issuance, based on the odor of unburnt marijuana, asserting that the police were unable to exclude the possibility that the odor emanating from a rural, cinder-block warehouse was the product of legal marijuana use, possession, or cultivation.
"The overwhelming odor of unburnt marijuana wafting from an 11,000 square foot, windowless, cinder-block warehouse, with all its doors apparently shut, its ventilation system blocked, and new exhaust pipes installed, is a different situation from the odor of unburnt marijuana emanating from the close confines of an automobile, or the front porch of a house," Justice Frank Gaziano wrote in the SJC ruling. "This is not to say, as the Commonwealth appears to suggest, that any odor of unburnt marijuana emanating from a building other than a house, by itself, provides probable cause."
The case stems from the events of Oct. 17, 2017 when Amherst police officers Dominic Corsetti and Lindsay Carroll were on patrol and began investigating after they noticed two automobiles parked at one end of a warehouse, far from the driveway, located in a rural area with no nearby neighbors.