Thursday, November 13, 2014


We get calls all the time about "marijuana odor" in the hallways of apartment buildings. I think those callers believe we'll just start kicking doors open until we find the renegade pot smoker and haul them off to jail. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. And if you think it does, you might want to give the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution a read some time.

Generally, what we do is see if the odor is definitely traceable to a specific door. It almost never is, but if so, we can knock on the door and see if the person will admit to it (I actually had a guy do that once). More often, we send the information to our Narcotics Bureau, and they can write a search warrant for the place based on the odor emanating from the door. In a vehicle it's a different story. A marijuana odor emanating from a vehicle is probable cause to search that vehicle (see Carroll v. U.S., 1925). So, smoke it at home at your own risk; smoke it in your car if you're feeling particularly lucky.

1 comment:

Don said...

Our fire department was called for a possible gas leak in an apartment building once.

We didn't recognize the odor, it was strong and pungent, sort of but not quite like the odor-ant in gas, so we started looking.

One of our Captains had the residents in one apartment try to keep him from coming in, but when the door was opened it was obvious this apartment was the source of the odor. He found a grow operation with about 20 plants in one bedroom.

He (the Captain) filled out an affidavit for the police officers, the police officers got a warrant, and withing 30 minutes, the apartment building was odor free.

We are on the Oregon border, our police department expects this sort of thing to become more common in the future.