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North Carolina Judge Bans People With The ‘Odor Of Marijuana’ From Entering Courts



Anyone who “has the odor of marijuana” will be banned from entering the North Carolina Superior Courts of Robeson County from here on out under an order signed by a judge on Wednesday.

The order says that smelling like cannabis will be grounds for removal from the courthouse, and the sheriff will be directed to “ask you to leave and come back without the odor owns [sic] your persons.”

A “findings of fact” section states that “the Robeson County Courthouse is a government facility open to the people for the purpose of conduction official business for the State of North Carolina.”

“The public is free to enter the courthouse during normal hours of operation to conduct business and the courthouse should be readily and reasonably accessible to the public in such a fashion that the safety and health of those entering the courthouse to conduct business, as well as those who work in the courthouse on a regular basis, are not threatened or impaired,” the order from Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James Gregory Bell says.


1. That anyone that has business in the Superior Courts of Robeson County, that has the odor of Marijuana, THC, CBD, Hashish and Hemp and like substances, shall not enter the courtrooms for court business. The Sheriff of Robeson Count will ask you to leave and come back without the odor own [sic] your persons.”

The order raises a couple questions. For one, based on the findings of fact, it’s unclear how the “safety and health” of people in the courthouse would be “threatened or impaired” if someone enters smelling like cannabis.

Secondly, odor can be subjective. The sheriff is instructed to enforce the rule, but who ultimately determines whether a person meets the definition of having “the odor of marijuana?”

In any case, the order comes as a more consequential legal question concerning marijuana odor was recently left open in the North Carolina Court of Appeals. In a recent case, the court notably declined to rule on whether the smell or sight of cannabis constitutes reasonable suspicion for police to search a vehicle. That question arose from the fact that hemp is legal in North Carolina and is largely indistinguishable from illegal marijuana.

Meanwhile, a poll released earlier this month found that nearly eight in 10 North Carolinians support medical marijuana legalization.

Read the North Carolina Superior Court order on marijuana odor in the courthouse below:

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Photo elements courtesy of rawpixel and Philip Steffan.

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