Cops supposedly smelled 25 grams of pot inside a plastic container inside a safe inside a closet 30 feet from a guy’s doorstep.
Five years ago the U.S. Supreme Court refused to endorse a principle that could have allowed any cop with a dog to search any home. The court ruled that deploying a drug-detecting canine at the doorstep of a suspected marijuana grower’s house in the hope of obtaining probable cause for a warrant (which requires nothing more than a claim that the dog “alerted”) itself constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.
But what if a cop without a dog claims his own nose detects marijuana inside a home? In that case, the Kansas Supreme Court recently ruled, the alleged odor provides probable cause for a search, which the cop can execute without waiting for a warrant if he says he was afraid the contraband he thought he smelled might be hidden or destroyed in the interim. In practice, the 4-to-3 decision, issued on December 7, gives police carte blanche to search any home at will.