According to official guidance that was issued by the College of Policing, police officers in England and Wales should not stop and routinely search because they smell marijuana.
Police officers are being trained to not stop someone just because they suspect they have been using the substance.
Marijuana is a Class B drug and possession of it can result in five years in prison, however police should not stop and search suspects according to the guidance. There needs to be other reasons to make a stop and search justifiable according to the document.
The document states, “Other factors could include the person’s behaviour or demeanour, a current drugs marker on the vehicle, specific intelligence about the person or the presence of drugs paraphernalia.”
“Officers should consider and record all of the information available to them, including their own observations of suspicious behaviour, not just the smell of what they believe to be cannabis.”
Chief Constable Andy Cooke of Merseyside Police, who is one of the senior policemen in the country, has said he thinks the guidance is wrong. He wrote on Twitter, “The guidance in my view is wrong and the law does not preclude it.”
He also wrote, “Smell of cannabis is sufficient to stop search and I will continue to encourage my officers to use it particularly on those criminals who are engaged in serious and organised crime.”
The document also says: “Where there are insufficient grounds for a lawful search, officers can still take a proactive approach to the public’s concern by reminding the individuals involved that controlled drugs are illegal and that gaining a criminal record may have an impact on their future.”