In December of 2008, smelled marijuana and found a “leafy substance” in Jonathan Stoffel’s Lincoln Navigator, leading to a search of his car where the police allegedly found ten grams of marijuana inside a mason jar and $8,600 in cash. He also possessed other evidence inc luding “drug recipes” that could have added to a drug manufacturing case that the feds had been building against Stoffels.
A federal judge tossed the evidence because the jar had been destroyed while in police custody and Stoffels’ defense attorney unusually had challenged the second reason for the search, that the officer smelt marijuana coming from Stoffels’ car.
Defense attorneys questioned the cops ability to smell the weed coming from the vehicle, and the justice behind a judge that tends to believe what a cop says rather than opposition. This was unusual, people don’t usually question issues like a cops ability to smell marijuana and most people take punishments without questioning authority.
However, years of forensic research has questioned the ability of an officer to smell weed through containers, outside homes, or from a suspect’s car.
James Woodford, a chemist who specializes in odor molecules, has been called to testify on the issue many times over the past twenty years. He often re-creates scenes to challenge an officers ability to get a whiff of pot through containers or car trunks. He claimed that the odor was unlikely so strong an officer could smell it from outside the car.
With the only evidence destroyed by Chicago Police and the fact that the policeman most likely couldn’t smell marijuana, this case went out the window.