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The odor of burnt marijuana alone is not enough for police to suspect criminal activity and order a person to get out of a car, the state’s highest court ruled Tuesday, citing a state law that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of the narcotic.

The Supreme Judicial Court cited a 2008 ballot question in which voters agreed to make possession of 1 ounce or less a civil, rather than a criminal, violation.

“We conclude that, to order a passenger in a stopped vehicle to exit based merely on suspicion of an offense, that offense must be criminal,” Chief Justice Roderick Ireland wrote for the court in the 5-1 ruling.

READ MORE: Mass. court limits police in small marijuana cases
Telegram & Gazette, April 19, 2011