TOPEKA, Kans. – Kansans with lawns, watch your backs. According to the state’s high court, the scent of raw cannabis—which can smell remarkably like newly mowed grass, hence the nickname—is just cause for a warrantless search…even if the police smell less than an ounce of cannabis sealed inside a Tupperware container inside a locked safe inside a closet from outside a residence.
Such was the situation in a recent appeal during which arresting officers testified they noticed an “overwhelming, potent, and very strong” aroma of raw cannabis—not cannabis smoke—from thirty feet outside an apartment building’s front door. Writing for the majority, Justice Dan Biles stated a simple sniff test is all that’s required to prevent potential destruction of evidence. After all, “We are not dealing with sommeliers trying to identify a white wine as a Loire Valley Chenin Blanc,” he wrote.
The minority was more circumspect, taking to task their fellow jurists for not asking pertinent questions: “How much raw marijuana must be present in order for a human to be able to detect its odor? How close must the person be to the raw marijuana in order to detect its odor? Does it make a difference whether the raw marijuana is in a closed container or a closed container within a closed container? How long does the odor of raw marijuana linger?”
The court allowed the suspect’s conviction to stand and did not issue any standards-of-evidence guidelines for “weed smell,” effectively giving police carte blanche to search any premises any time and justify the behavior by claiming to have an unnaturally acute olfactory sense.
We hope Kansas cops aren’t wasting taxpayer money on bloodhounds.