Minnesotans can now legally transport certain amounts of marijuana in their vehicles, and law enforcement may not conduct a warrantless search of a car based on the smell of the plant alone.
The state's new recreational marijuana law has changed the way cannabis is treated inside motor vehicles, and a ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court last week affirms that marijuana smell doesn't justify a vehicle search.
Here's what you need to know:
What is allowed
People 21 and older may transport in their vehicles up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower, up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrates and edible products containing up to 800 milligrams of THC, the ingredient in marijuana that causes a high.
Those products must not be opened, however, unless they're stored in an area that can't be accessed while driving.
What isn't allowed
It remains illegal to consume marijuana inside a vehicle or get behind the wheel while high. And having an open cannabis product in a car is treated similar to the state's open container law for alcohol.
Open cannabis products may be stowed away in the trunk or another area of the vehicle that's unreachable while driving.
New rules for law enforcement
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last week that law enforcement officers can't search a vehicle without a warrant based solely on the smell of marijuana. Officers may still consider the odor as part of the evidence to support a search, it just can't be the only reason.
"Under our precedent, the odor of marijuana should be considered along with the totality of any other circumstances to determine whether there is a fair probability that a search will yield contraband or other evidence that marijuana is being used in a criminally illegal manner," the Supreme Court ruling said.
Kurtis Hanna, a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization, hailed the Supreme Court's ruling as a win for Minnesotans' "right to privacy."
"Now that public smoking is legal, a cop that smells someone on the sidewalk smoking but they think it's coming from your vehicle isn't just going to randomly rummage through your stuff," said Hanna, who's the public policy and government relations specialist for Blunt Strategies, a strategic consulting firm for the cannabis industry. "If you're a hemp farmer and you're leaving the field for the day driving home and ... you smell like the plant that you grow for a living, cops can't search you there."