Smell of Drugs Gives Officers Right to Search

Smell of Drugs Gives Officers Right to Search
Posted by FoM on March 18, 2000 at 09:53:06 PT
By Jenny Price, Associated Press
Source: Duluth News
The smell of burning marijuana gives police the right to enter a home without a search warrant, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.The high court said that marijuana possession is a serious enough crime, and the risk of evidence being destroyed was so great that police acted reasonably in conducting a search of a Milwaukee apartment.
The decision came in a case in which police investigated on June 4, 1996, a report of suspicious people hanging around a Milwaukee apartment complex that they said was known for drug trade.A security guard told police that two men known for being involved in drug activity had entered the apartment of Vanessa Hughes, court records said.While they were waiting for backup, Hughes' younger sister opened the door and officers could smell marijuana. The police pushed open the door and Hughes consented to a search. Officers said they found cocaine on Hughes.The trial court in Milwaukee County refused to suppress the results of the search. Hughes pleaded guilty to drug possession and was sentenced in October 1996 to 24 months in prison.She appealed to the 1st District Court of Appeals, which said Hughes' consent to the search came too soon after the officers' illegal entry to be considered valid.In Friday's 4-3 decision, the state Supreme Court reversed the appeals court.``Had the officers stayed outside and called for a warrant, the evidence would have been lost,'' Justice Diane Sykes said, writing for the majority for the first time.The officers acted reasonably based on the odor of marijuana coming from the apartment, which established probable cause that they would find contraband or evidence of a crime, Sykes wrote.``This case presents us with a dilemma was old as the constitution itself: how best to balance the government's interest in law enforcement with the individual's right to be left alone,'' she wrote. ``Although we generally give deference to the rights of the individual, we recognize that sometimes those rights must yield to the government's duty to enforce the law.''Thomas Balistreri, an assistant attorney general who argued the police search was legal, said courts have carved out exceptions to the requirement that police have a warrant to enter a private residence.``This (ruling) does not really change the substance of the rule of law that exists,'' he said. ``Police can enter without a warrant, that's a well-established rule.''The officers had sufficient reason to believe a crime was being committed and risked losing any of the evidence of the crime, marijuana possession, if they waited to obtain a warrant, he said.``They're standing out there and all of the sudden somebody opens the door... and all of the sudden they're in a cloud of marijuana smoke,'' he said.Donald Downs, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the court's decision is not inconsistent with previous rulings.Madison, WisconsinPublished: March 18, 2000 2000 Duluth News-Tribune. Related Articles & Web Site:Drug Policy Forum of Wisconsin: of Drugs Gives Police Right to Search of Pot Not Should Not Warrant Search Court Rules MJ Odor May Warrant Searches Searches Violate Guaranteed Civil Rights
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Comment #6 posted by MMM on March 20, 2000 at 11:15:00 PT
Illegal searches according to the constitution
After our forefathers worked so hard in keeping this a free country, the Supreme Court strikes down one of the basic laws of the Constitution? Why don't they just have nine Commandments and take out one that happens not to serve the purpose? Didn't the TV media make note of this or has the IQ of the country dropped SO far that we have non-thinking quasi-humans inhabiting the U.S.? 
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Comment #5 posted by steve1 on March 19, 2000 at 14:28:07 PT
raise the spirit and expand the mind!
"The officers acted reasonably based on the odor of marijuana coming from the apartment, which established probable cause that they would find contraband or evidence of a crime, Sykes wrote."I would like to quote one of my favorite bands "EXIT-13", the song is called "Legalize Hemp Now"The song quote is as follows:"How can it sanely be deemed a crime to lift one's spirits and expand the mind?!?"Why should I listen to a law that is insane? The "government" should be ticketing people for spitting on the street instead of making criminals out of pot smokers. Are we not civilized as a society? Is the United States full of idiots? Are we all that irresponsible? Is that why marijuana is not legal? That's a question we should ask ourselves.
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Comment #4 posted by MMM on March 18, 2000 at 22:35:48 PT
WE are the people. The people want medical marijuana. The government says no. Aren't WE the government? Are we at war with ourselves? Yes, but is there any hope? Sometimes I think America is going downhill so very fast.Ever since Kennedy was shot, the U.S. changed dramatically. We aren't the same USA as we were decades ago. The pace is more hectic, life is more stressful -- we have road rage, kids killing kids -- where's it going to end? The country NEEDS to pass medical marijuana for the sake of mental health issues.Weed is medine for anxiety and stress. Perfect for the overworked poor souls knocking their brains out to stay afloat, a higher divorce rate, etc. back then.Doesn't anyone remember how therapeutic marijuana was supposed to be in the 60's? Why did 40 years have to pass before Oregon starts to push for expanding the uses of marijuana for anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, insomniacs, etc. -- and that's a huge number of our population. The lyrics of the album hair are floating faintly through my mind. The hippies were just ahead of their time, but they knew what needed to be done.
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on March 18, 2000 at 14:00:17 PT:
Scents and sense
If I recall correctly, there was a hemp company that advertised in the back of Jack Herer's book that offered a perfume that had a very distinctive odor of.. you guessed it! pot.Now, granted we are not dealing with chemistry majors, but it takes very little know-how to concoct a tincture of cannabis oils, pour them in a spray bottle, spray the door of a suspected user's house, and tell the judge during the hearing that they demanded entry because of their smelling pot. So long as no one actually sees them doing it, who'se to say?And we all know that the nice policemen *never* lie, don't we? They'd *never* try to intimidate their way inside someone's dwelling and nullify their 4th Ammendment rights. They *never* plant evidence once they're inside, nooooo! They *never* conspire to send innocent people to jail on false testimony! Noooo, the scandals of the LAPD, the NYPD, the (fill in the blank for your favorite corrupt police department) are just figments of the Liberal imagination! Don't believe those Left Wing, criminal-coddling Liberals on the TV!The police used to say that the next time you're in trouble and need help desperatly, call a hippy. The way things are going, that just might be the only option left for those who don't want their property stolen, careers ruined... or lives taken by gun-waving narcs.
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Comment #2 posted by Founding_Fathers on March 18, 2000 at 12:16:30 PT
The Bill of Rights, 4th Amendment
``The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.''
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Comment #1 posted by observer on March 18, 2000 at 12:12:18 PT
any excuse will do to steal your rights
> ``They're standing out there and all of the sudden somebody opens the door... and all of the sudden they're in a cloud of marijuana smoke,'' he said.Sure they were! In other words, "If we want to bust your door down to fish for (or plant) contraband, any excuse will do. We'll just say we thought we smelled marijuana."
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