Indiana Court Rules Any Admission of Past Cannabis Possession Is Grounds for Vehicle Search
The Hoosier State’s incredibly harsh cannabis laws now extend beyond THC and CBD possession, criminalizing past pot use even if it was legal.
Published on February 20, 2018

Photo via dwightsghost

Drivers in Indiana received a new reason to stay silent during traffic stops last week, as Hoosier State cops were given the legal precedent to perform vehicle searches after any admission of lifetime cannabis possession, even if that weed use was years-old, or in a state with legal cannabis programs.

According to the Kokomo Perspective, the bolstered police power stems from a 2016 traffic stop, in which driver John Toschlog admitted to a Valparaiso, Indiana police officer that he had possessed cannabis in Washington State, where the drug is legal, before crossing into Indiana. While the officer has said that he did not smell marijuana at the time, he cited Toschlog’s Washington State cannabis use as probable cause, called a drug-sniffing dog, and uncovered both weed and the hallucinogen DMT in the car, eventually arresting Toschlog for three misdemeanor drug crimes.

Since the August 2016 arrest, Toschlog has continually fought the charges, claiming in court that the discussion of Washington State cannabis had no bearing on the Indiana incident, and that calling in drug dogs had “impermissibly extended” the traffic stop.

Now, nearly two years after the fact, the Indiana Court of Appeals has sided with the police officer, giving law enforcement across the state a new tool in Indiana’s still-evolving criminalization of cannabis and its users.

"His choice to do so and to disclose inculpatory information — i.e., that he had previously had drugs in his car — provided the officer with reasonable suspicion to believe at that point that Toschlog currently had marijuana in his vehicle," the panel of judges ruled.

In addition to updating vehicle search standards, Indiana officials recently moved to crack down on sales of CBD health products, with state excise police sending cease and desist letters and even raiding stores selling therapeutic CBD gummies or oils. Although a legislative bill expanding CBD access succeeded in the state Senate earlier this month, the specifics of permitted CBD products and their testing remain uncertain.

Even if Hoosier State legislators are able to pass CBD protections in the near future, state officials have shown no interest in bringing expanded medical or adult-use cannabis legalization to the heartland state.

As for Toschlog, the trial concerning his misdemeanor drug charges had been postponed while the search was challenged, but with the Court of Appeals recent decision now filed, the talkative Hoosier could see more days in court sooner than later.

Toschlog can still submit his case to the Indiana Supreme Court for further review, but no matter what happens next, we’re guessing he’ll think twice before giving up his right to remain silent.

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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