KS Supreme Court: Smell of marijuana justified Lawrence home search

AP News Staff
December 12, 2018 - 5:59 am

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A divided Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that police can rely exclusively on their sense of smell to provide probable cause to do preliminary search of a home for drugs.

The ruling came in a case where Lawrence police entered a man's apartment to search after saying they detected a strong smell of raw marijuana. Lawrence Hubbard appealed his conviction on misdemeanor drug charges, arguing that the Lawrence officers could not justify the search without a search warrant based only on their ability to smell.

The state argued that probable the security sweep the officers conducted before getting a search warrant was appropriate to ensure no one inside Hubbard's apartment destroyed possible evidence in the case.

The majority opinion written by Justice Dan Biles that upheld Hubbard's convictions said officers didn't have to perform a sophisticated sensory task before performing the warrantless search.

"We are not dealing with sommeliers trying to identify a white wine as a Loire Valley Chenin Blanc," he wrote in the decision.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the court ruled Friday on a 4-3 vote.

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