THE PASSAGE of an ill-considered 2008 state ballot question decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana has proved to be disorienting for the legal system. The latest example is a ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court that the odor of marijuana emanating from a parked vehicle is not sufficient cause for further police investigation. It’s a harmful ruling that can and should be remedied by the Legislature.

By a 5-1 vote, the state’s highest court recently upheld a district court’s ruling that police officers lacked the authority to order suspects out of a parked passenger vehicle based on the odor of pot. The court concluded that Boston police officers had no evidence that the suspects possessed a criminal amount of marijuana and erred by “ferreting out decriminalized conduct with the same fervor associated with the pursuit of serious criminal conduct.’’ Possession of under one ounce of marijuana in Massachusetts is just a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine.

READ MORE: Ruling on marijuana searches leaves behind a strange odor
Boston Globe, April 25, 2011