On Friday the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the smell of cannabis is enough probable cause to enter a residence without a warrant
The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on a 2013 case in Lawrence
Officers claimed to smell the odor of cannabis from 30 feet away in Lawrence Hubbard’s apartment
Police found 25 grams of cannabis in Hubbard’s closet after entering his residence without a warrant
Despite the majority of the nation moving forward with either medical or recreational cannabis use, Kansas once again has taken a significant step backward after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled officers can enter a residence without a warrant if the odor of cannabis is detected.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on the issue after Lawrence police entered Lawrence Hubbard’s apartment because they smelled a strong odor of raw cannabis. Hubbard’s attorney Jim Rumsey looked to suppress evidence that was obtained without a warrant by Officer Kimberly Nicholson and another officer.
In November 2013, Nicholson claimed to be able to smell 25 grams of cannabis that was stored in a closet from 30 feet away. Rumsey argued it was highly improbable that Nicholson would be able to smell cannabis from that distance.
From 30 feet away we’re supposed to believe she can smell raw marijuana? I’d suggest no reasonable person could do that.
Douglas County Assistant District Attorney Kate Butler argued the case on behalf of the state to the Supreme Court. Butler claimed the officers were “very familiar with the smell of marijuana.”
What we do have is two officers very familiar with the smell of marijuana testify using words such as ‘overwhelming, potent and very strong’.
Justice Carol Beier wrote that Hubbard’s conviction should be vacated and his sentence reversed. However, the majority opinion written by Justice Dan Biles stated officers did not need to perform a sophisticated sensory task before performing the warrantless search of Hubbard’s residence.
We are not dealing with sommeliers trying to identify a white wine as a Loire Valley Chenin Blanc.
The majority of Kansans are ready to move forward with at least medical cannabis. It is a safe bet that Kris Kobach’s staunch attitude towards keeping cannabis illegal played a role in his defeated run for governor against Laura Kelly.
As neighboring states reap the benefits of cannabis both financially and medically, Kansas is still focused on legally ruining the lives of citizens such as Hubbard. While Governor Kelly says she is pro-medical cannabis, this decision by the Supreme Court shows cannabis advocates have a hard road ahead of them despite the new governor’s feelings.