No, in most cases, you cannot be stopped, searched, or arrested because the police smell marijuana on you in Virginia.
As of July 1, 2020, possessing small amounts of marijuana in the Commonwealth of Virginia is no longer a crime. Since then, marijuana laws have continued to evolve.
Smell and Search Is No Longer Permitted With Two Exceptions
In November 2020, a new law was enacted regarding what police may do when they smell marijuana. The Search Without Warrant; Odor of Marijuana law went into effect on March 1, 2021. According to Virginia Code § 4.1-1302(A), "no law-enforcement officer may lawfully stop, search, or seize any person, place, or thing solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana…"
It doesn't matter whether or not you consent to the search. The law goes on to say that "...no evidence discovered or obtained pursuant to a violation of this subsection, including evidence discovered or obtained with the person's consent, shall be admissible in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding."
However, there are two exceptions to this general rule. The law does not apply at airports or in commercial vehicles. Accordingly, if the police smell marijuana on you at Dulles International Airport, any other Virginia airport, or while you are in a commercial vehicle, such as a large interstate truck or a bus, then the police may stop and search you.
What to Do If You're Arrested on a Drug Charge
While personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is no longer a crime in Virginia, you may be charged with possession with intent to distribute and other drug-related crimes. You could face significant criminal penalties and the long-term consequences of a criminal record.
Our Virginia drug defense lawyers are here to help you. We will investigate every aspect of your case, make sure that the police only use legally obtained evidence, and raise all relevant defenses on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and to learn more about protecting your future.