Police told not to stop and search people who smell of cannabis

Police have been told that just smelling cannabis is not enough evidence to start stopping and searching someone.

A landmark ruling by the Independent Office for Police Conduct has sparked fears the drug could effectively be decriminalised.

The watchdog found the suspected smell of marijuana was not grounds enough to search a man in London last November.

The scent of the drug did not warrant a full stop and search, the IOPC ruled.

IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “Stopping someone on the single ground of a suspicion of the smell of cannabis is not good practice and it’s right that the officer will have to reflect on this.”

No drugs were found during the search of the man last year in Euston, north London.

Outrage has since erupted with critics saying the move paved the way for legalisation of the drug.

Ex-Met detective chief inspector Mick Neville told The Sun: “At a time when crime is increasing, the police do not need any more barriers to stop them targeting drug users and dealers.

“If an officer smells cannabis on a person then this should be sufficient reason to conduct a search.

“We are reaching the stage where drug users could smoke a spliff in front of police, knowing full well that an officer can do nothing about it.''

  • Police chiefs back 'cannabis card' which will decriminalise drug for millions of Brits

And second reason provided by the officer for the stop and search – that the cyclist encroached over white lines at traffic lights – was dismissed by the watchdog, The Sun reported.

It comes only weeks after police chiefs backed a private scheme that allowed users to cary a Cannabis Card entitling them to medical use.

Around 3.5 million Brits with health conditions would be allowed to use the card, according to reports on the proposals in The Times.

Currently, users can be slapped with a fine or even a five-year prison sentence for buying cannabis from drug dealers.

Medical cannabis has been legal in Britain for nearly two years but only a handful of people are eligible under the NHS prescription.

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