Man's Money Smells Like Pot, Leads to His Conviction

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on October 01, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Fact: If your money smells like pot, you could get busted -- even if there's no pot to be found.

William David Bush of Sebastopol, California, learned that the hard way when he was convicted of possessing proceeds from the sale of marijuana.

Cops pulled over his Benz and discovered $47,000 in his trunk which wafted a certain, shall we say, "skunk-like" aroma.

Stanky Money = Drug Money?

In general, automobiles may be stopped if an officer possesses a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the motorist has violated a traffic law.

Once the vehicle has pulled to the side of the road, the Fourth Amendment permits the officer to search the vehicle's interior, including the glove compartment. However, the trunk of a vehicle can't be searched unless the officer has probable cause to believe that it contains contraband or the instrumentalities of criminal activity.

In this case, it was the reefer smell of the pot proceeds that triggered probable cause. According to the prosecutor, it was more than a mere whiff o' weed.

"The odor was so overwhelming that one of the officers said he could smell it from across the road," prosecutor Sharmalee Rajakumaran said after the verdict was announced, reports The Press Democrat.

This adds a whole new dimension to why the chicken crossed the road...

Possessing Proceeds From the Sale of Marijuana

In California, it's illegal to knowingly receive drug money.

Bush claimed the trunk of cash came from his ATM business and that his mother had given it to him. But the panel of jurors were swayed by police testimony that the moola smelled more than fishy... For an ATM business, the cash smelled awfully "maui wowie."

Adding fuel to the reefer flame, further incriminating evidence included an alleged hand-written ledger of various marijuana strains, fine particles of pot on the floorboards, and stubs of money orders (which are often used for money laundering).

Unfortunately, Bush went down the pro se path and represented himself. He also rejected initial prosecution offers to drop the felony charge if he forfeited the money, reports the Press Democrat.

Bush faces a maximum of four years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000 for possessing proceeds from the sale of marijuana.

Maybe next time he'll invest some of his "ATM proceeds" into a few of those pine tree-shaped air fresheners -- or maybe a kilo of them.

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