In a memo regarding the sale, possession, and consumption of marijuana by those 21 and older, the NYPD is holding off on performing vehicle searches based on the smell of weed. “Effective immediately, the smell of marijuana alone no longer establishes [a] probable cause of a crime to search a vehicle,” the memo reads. “This change applies to both burnt and unburnt marijuana.”
However, an officer may still search the vehicle if the driver appears to be under the influence and “there is probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of the impairing.”
“However, the trunk may not be searched unless the officer develops separate probable cause to believe the trunk contains evidence of a crime.”
The memo also stated that marijuana can be consumed “almost anywhere that cigarette smoking is allowed including on sidewalks, on front stoops and other public places.” While marijuana sales on the street level remain illegal, if an NYPD officer observes a hand-to-hand transaction of 3 ounces or less occurring, they may not issue a summons or make an arrest, unless they witness money being exchanged.