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Northfield cops make hefty marijuana bust

Submitted photo
Northfield Police needed four large trash-bags to haul off the freshly cut marijuana they discovered in a car during a traffic stop Tuesday.

Submitted photo Northfield Police needed four large trash-bags to haul off the freshly cut marijuana they discovered in a car during a traffic stop Tuesday.

NORTHFIELD — When a carload of teenagers was stopped Tuesday afternoon, police found more than three kids out for an after-school cruise.

They found more marijuana than they could fit in their evidence bags.

What ended with a drug bust began when one of the car’s occupants threw an object from the window, which nearly struck another car on Main Street, said acting Chief Robert Leighton.

The driver of that car called police, and gave them a description of the vehicle, its occupants and plate number.

“Within one minute (of the call), I located the vehicle on Main Street, and initiated a stop,” said Leighton.

When he approached the car, he smelled a strong odor of unburned marijuana, said Leighton.

Though recent state Supreme Judicial Court decisions have ruled that the smell of burned marijuana no longer gives police probable cause to search a vehicle, the fragrance of fresh marijuana still gives officers cause for search.

When he opened the trunk of the vehicle, he found it full of freshly harvested marijuana, the chief said.

“It took four large trash bags to secure it all,” he said. “They were cut-up whole plants.” He estimated their value in the thousands.

Leighton said charges are pending against the three males in the vehicle. A recently signed state law has moved the minimum age for prosecution as an adult to 18, so any charges would be pursued in juvenile court.

Since they are minors, Leighton cannot provide the names of the suspects, but said all three reside in the Northfield area.

Ongoing investigation

Leighton didn’t call it a day after the marijuana was bagged and tagged. He began to dig deeper, with the help of the Northwestern District Anti-Crime Task Force.

“As a result of the investigation, we were able to secure additional marijuana that had recently been cut, from a residence in Northfield,” said Leighton.

Charges against additional persons are likely, Leighton said, once police figure out who to charge with what crimes.

“At this point, no arrests have been made,” he said. “At this point, we’re looking at the level of involvement of each individual. We have quite a few more people we have to track down and talk to.”

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

Agree that it is not at all clear that this stop is legit under Cruz. The smell of marijuana is not sufficient cause to order a search of the vehicle. I assume their lawyers will argue this. It will be interesting to see how this turns out. http://www.mymassachusettsdefenselawyer.com/marijuana-odor-ruling/

"Though recent state Supreme Judicial Court decisions have ruled that the smell of burned marijuana no longer gives police probable cause to search a vehicle, the fragrance of fresh marijuana still gives officers cause for search." This is an incorrect statement of the law. The correct statement would be: In a series of decisions since Patriot's Day 2011 the Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that observation of less than an ounce of marijuana whether by smell (from which it is impossible to determine the presence of more than an ounce) or visual observation of less than an ounce no longer gives police probable cause to search because possession of less than an ounce is not a crime and police are only authorized to search for evidence of crime..

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