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Supreme Court eviscerates 4th Amendment over marijuana smell

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator May 17, 2011

    Tango Two Charlie, smells like we got us some overtime hours in this apartment complex!

    In a case decided yesterday, Kentucky v. King, the US Supreme Court has ruled that cops who smell marijuana coming from your home can break down your door and arrest you, just as long as they knock first and claim to have heard you destroying evidence.

    They don’t need a warrant or probable cause, either.  Today in America, police can now randomly patrol neighborhoods and apartment complexes sniffing around for pot.  When they smell it, they can knock on your door and then break it down, claiming they heard noises from within.

    The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution plainly states:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Writing for the Supreme Court in a 1980 case called Payton v. New York, Justice Stevens reiterated:

    In terms that apply equally to seizures of property and to seizures of persons, the Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house. Absent exigent circumstances, that threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant.

    The smell of a burning flower and the sound of “scurrying” are now the “exigent circumstances” needed to “reasonably” cross that “firm line” without a warrant.

    (Los Angeles Times) Ruling in a Kentucky case Monday, the justices said that officers who smell marijuana and loudly knock on the door may break in if they hear sounds that suggest the residents are scurrying to hide the drugs.

    Residents who “attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame” when police burst in, said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. for an 8-1 majority.

    In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she feared the ruling gave police an easy way to ignore 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. She said the amendment’s “core requirement” is that officers have probable cause and a search warrant before they break into a house.

    “How ‘secure’ do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and …forcibly enter?” Ginsburg asked.

    The Supreme Court ruled in Kentucky vs. King that the officers’ conduct “was entirely lawful,” and they were justified in breaking in to prevent the destruction of the evidence.

    Note to self and advice to others:  When you’re smoking pot in your home and the cops come a-knockin’, be very, very quiet.  I’m only half-kidding, for as Justice Alito writes:

    When law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door, they do no more than any private citizen might do. And whether the person who knocks on the door and requests the opportunity to speak is a police officer or a private citizen, the occupant has no obligation to open the door or to speak. Cf. Florida v. Royer460 U. S. 491, 497-498 (1983). (“[H]e may decline to listen to the questions at all and may go on his way”). When the police knock on a door but the occupants choose not to respond or to speak, “the investigation will have reached a conspicuously low point,” and the occupants “will have the kind of warning that even the most elaborate security system cannot provide.”

    If you make noise when the cops knock, police can interpret that as you attempting to hide or destroy evidence (drugs), which creates the “exigent circumstance” needed to break down your door.  Which leads me to ask, what does hiding or destroying cannabis sound like?  I suppose the sounds of garbage disposals, trash compactors, and flushing toilets would be obvious answers.  In King’s case, “scurrying” was enough; I guess cops could argue that he was running to the window throw out a baggie.  Of course this all depends on taking the police at their word when they testify that they heard the “scurrying”.

    In the King case, the cops weren’t even looking for King.  They were conducting a sting operation on a street-level crack dealer.  When he ran upstairs to his apartment on the right, the police followed, but they lost him.  As they reached the apartment on the right, they smelled marijuana from King’s apartment on the left.  The police knocked loudly on the apartment on the left.  They then heard “scurrying”, so they broke down the door and caught King with marijuana and cocaine.

    The smell of marijuana burning does give police indication there is a crime taking place behind that door – the possession of at least a joint or a bowl of marijuana.  In Kentucky, such a first offense would be a crime worthy of a misdemeanor with a max of one year in jail and a $500 fine.  It would take more than eight ounces on a first offense for felony charges.  The police, not knowing King or having any probable cause to go after King, essential beat down his door on the “exigent circumstance” he may be destroying evidence of a misdemeanor.  Is it “reasonable” to violate a man’s 4th Amendment rights over a potential misdemeanor?

    At NORML, we often get demands from legalization supporters to “sue the government” to end the improper and unconstitutional prohibition of cannabis.  It has been tried and tried again, including our own NORML v. DEA suit, and certainly there are many more suits to be tried.  But given this 8-1 decision and the current makeup of the Supreme Court that promises a solid 5-4 majority of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy against any meaningful reforms, it seems clear to me that the path to legalization does not lead through the judiciary.  This is a federal court system that has twisted precedent and the intent of the Constitution in the name of eradicating marijuana by recently deciding:

    • that intrastate personal non-commercial medical use of marijuana is controlled by interstate commerce (Raich v. Gonzales);
    • that police can sneak up onto your driveway on your private property and secretly place a GPS tracking device on your car to follow you to grow shops (USA v. Juan Pineda-Moreno);
    • that merely being in possession of a firearm while growing marijuana is a crime (USA v. Somkhit Thongsy);
    • that an 18-year-old student standing on a public sidewalk can be expelled by his high school for holding a sign with the word “bong” on it (Frederick v. Morse);
    • that religions using Schedule I ayahuasca or Schedule I peyote as a holy sacrament should have a First Amendment exception to drug law prosecution (Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal), but religions that use Schedule I cannabis made the mistake of choosing too popular an illegal holy sacrament (USA v. Quaintence);
    • and that police who’ve stopped your vehicle may run a drug-sniffing dog around your car even without any probable cause to believe the driver is involved with drugs in any way (Illinois v. Caballes).

    So long as the law says marijuana is contraband and its possession and cultivation a crime, the federal courts will always find a way to rule to maintain marijuana prohibition.  The solution lies in Congress (depressing as that may be) and changing the law.

    UPDATE: NORML Legal Intern Kellen Russoniello examines this SCOTUS decision and muses about some undiscussed aspects of the decision that need greater light cast upon them

    Ray of Hope in Kentucky v. King

    Although the 8-1 decision of the Supreme Court in Kentucky v. King strikes many as a full-on frontal assault to the Fourth Amendment, the decision is more nuanced than has been popularly portrayed and there is still a small chance that the decision is not as bad as many think. This is not to say that the decision does not create grave concerns, but there is a way to limit the holding of this case in future litigation.

    The question answered in Kentucky v. King was whether the knocking and announcement of police presence at a home, when the police decided not to get a warrant, created the exigent circumstances needed to enter the home without a warrant. If it had, then the police entry would not have been justified because they had created the emergency. Although some, including Justice Ginsberg, have answered this in the positive, the majority determined that the police did not create an exigency by announcing their presence, however aggressively this was conducted. Although in a causal sense the vociferous announcement of the police created the supposed exigency by causing King, who assumedly was just sitting in his living room, to move, either destroy the evidence or just answer the door, the court ruled that in legal sense the police did not create the emergency. Knocking on a citizen’s door without a warrant and announcing police presence is a reasonable mode of operation, according to the majority. Because the police acted reasonably before the existence of the supposed exigency, their actions of kicking the door in after they heard what sounded like destroying evidence was also reasonable and justified by the destruction of evidence exception to the warrant requirement. (Of course, this raises other questions including: When does police conduct become the cause of exigent circumstances in the eyes of the law?)

    Although this decision is subject to criticism, the real question in this case went unanswered. Both the Kentucky Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court assumed when undertaking this analysis that exigent circumstances actually existed. This means that both courts took it as given that the movement heard inside the house after the police made their presence known was sufficient to justify a warrantless entry based on the suspicion that evidence was being destroyed.

    The question thus remains: Does the shuffling heard inside the house constitute an exigent circumstance justifying warrantless entry into the home? This will be decided on remand to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

    Defenders of the Fourth Amendment must be prepared to argue that the sound of movement inside a home is not enough to justify the existence of exigent circumstances. This is where the real issue regarding personal freedom in the home lies.

    When the courts officially proclaim that scurrying or noise made inside a home constitutes exigent circumstances, then we will truly know that the judiciary has traded the gavel for the battering ram. For now, there remains a shred of hope.

    219 Responses to “Supreme Court eviscerates 4th Amendment over marijuana smell”

    1. [...] ShareThis week’s Supreme Court decision in Kentucky v. King has civil-libertarians and marijuana policy reformers in an uproar, and rightly so, but it’s not exactly the death of the 4th Amendment. [...]

    2. disabledvet says:

      by ballot initiatives, for complete legalization of all cannabis, or spend years in the lawyers and politicians adversarial process bureaucracy spending all your tax dollars so they can play government following their own agenda’s. either that or get plenty of guns and ammo.

      [Editor's note: Less than half the states have direct voter initiatives...the ONLY way to practically end the federal prohibition is with a change to federal laws...not initiatives in some states.]

    3. B says:

      I don’t know how many of you are aware of this, but another 4th amendment destroying decision was passed down on the same day as this decision. The state supreme court of Indiana ruled that citizens do not have the right, under any circumstances, to resist an unlawful entry by police into their home. They justify their decision by saying that resisting can escalate the situation and result in violence. I’m sorry, but unlawful entries by police often turn violent anyways because the police enter a home unlawfully and violently. If they want to avoid violence, maybe they shouldn’t do that. The Indiana court further ruled that the only proper way to react in such a situation is to allow your rights to be violated, then go to the courts and sue for the violations. Of course, the way police arbitration works, the majority of those cases will simply be dismissed by an in-house investigation. Granted, this case has currently only been decided in one state, but if it isn’t appealed to the SCOTUS, or if SCOTUS refuses to overturn this ruling, it sets a very, very scary precedent. I know this case was a little off topic, but I think it’s important we know what kinds of abominations the government is planning for us.

      [Paul Armentano responds: Yes, NORML is aware of this recent decision out of the Indiana Supreme Court, but many others visiting this page may not be. Here are some more details:

      http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_ec169697-a19e-525f-a532-81b3df229697.html

      Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home
      Story
      Discussion
      By Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 | Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011 3:56 pm | (293)

      PDF: Supreme Court ruling in Barnes v. State

      INDIANAPOLIS | Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.
      In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry.

      "We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," David said. "We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."

      David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system.

      The court's decision stems from a Vanderburgh County case in which police were called to investigate a husband and wife arguing outside their apartment.

      When the couple went back inside their apartment, the husband told police they were not needed and blocked the doorway so they could not enter. When an officer entered anyway, the husband shoved the officer against a wall. A second officer then used a stun gun on the husband and arrested him.

      Professor Ivan Bodensteiner, of Valparaiso University School of Law, said the court's decision is consistent with the idea of preventing violence.

      "It's not surprising that they would say there's no right to beat the hell out of the officer," Bodensteiner said.

      "(The court is saying) we would rather opt on the side of saying if the police act wrongfully in entering your house your remedy is under law, to bring a civil action against the officer."

      Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, and Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, dissented from the ruling, saying the court's decision runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

      "In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally -- that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances," Rucker said. "I disagree."

      Rucker and Dickson suggested if the court had limited its permission for police entry to domestic violence situations they would have supported the ruling.

      But Dickson said, "The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad."

      This is the second major Indiana Supreme Court ruling this week involving police entry into a home.

      On Tuesday, the court said police serving a warrant may enter a home without knocking if officers decide circumstances justify it. Prior to that ruling, police serving a warrant would have to obtain a judge's permission to enter without knocking.]

    4. Jared Rakestraw says:

      I am gonna laugh when ppl start blasting the cops cause they don’t know how is breaking in their door. I have seen plenty of times where cops rush into a house and never announce that they are the Police. I think american’s should arm theirselves with guns, and when the police randomly burst in we shoot them, and say, Hey, I thought it was someone trying to rob me. I was scared and defended myself! Thats what I plan on doing.

      [Editor's note: Two wrongs do not make a right. Pretending that you'll be free or safe because you think you'll shoot the cops when they enter your home is foolishness because after you shoot the first cop, two dozen cops will make you look like Swiss cheese.

      Want to change the country's cannabis laws? Get involved politically at the local/state/federal levels...this will change the laws. Want judges who respect citizens more than the govt? Elect politicians that agree with cannabis law reform, who'll then nominate judges who defer to freedom more than to narcs.

      Shooting cops who enter your home will do NOTHING to advance cannabis law reform in the slightest. If anything it will harm reform as cops will point to supposedly violent, gun-toting cannabis consumers as a reason to CONTINUE prohibition--not end it.

      All shooting cops will make you is dead several times over...which makes you a useless dead body, not an active voting citizen.]

    5. ben says:

      to the editor… how dare you insist ron paul will never win the presidency, are you a facist too?..are you one of these assholes that think he’s a nut for being a devout constitutionalist? this is not the place for you or anyone to be trying to make political policy. each person has a right to vote for whomever they wish. you can keep your opinions to yourself thank you very much and not spread them with this site just because you are the editor

      [Editor's note: How can a 74-year old man who polls under 10% support in the GOP ever become the party's nominee?

      Answer: It will NEVER happen. Never!

      Ron Paul is never going to be elected the GOP nominee. Ron Paul will never win a majority in a national election. Even if he chose to run on the Libertarian Party ticket, he would do as well as the last time he was their nominee (meaning he might poll 3% in the national vote).

      Dream and be as delusional as you like...but know that anyone who supports Ron Paul as a viable presidential candidate is someone who should be making a bid on the Brooklyn Bridge.

      Clearly, if Paul can't win the GOP nomination--which he has proven time and time that he can't--he has 0.0% chance of winning a national election.

      If you don't understand this, you don't understand politics.

      Is Ron Paul a nice guy who professes love for the US Constitution. Sure! Does he enjoy political support and funding from NORML. Sure! But that does not dismiss the clear fact that the man is NEVER going to be elected to anything beyond a Congressman from a conservative TX district. He can't even get elected senator from TX, let alone president of the nation.]

    6. Bhonze says:

      Time to Vote all these Idiots out that are selling our freedom to comunist nations!!! We are slowly watching our comunist government take over America!

      [Editor's note: Indeed, the vote is much more powerful than a gun pointed in anger!]

    7. [...] week’s Supreme Court decision in Kentucky v. King has civil-libertarians and marijuana policy reformers in an uproar, and rightly so, but it’s not exactly the death of the 4th Amendment. Here’s a [...]

    8. [...] cops can now bust down your door if they smell weed and hear any noises Supreme Court eviscerates 4th Amendment over marijuana smell | NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform As far as i'm concerned this is a call to arms, if the cops come through my door i'm resisting to [...]

    9. The American Genesist says:

      If my Faith loses face – how will my service be of value. That is a thought that gives me no peace of mind. When the laws of my government conflicts with the laws of my Faith – I know which one to obey – and – there I must abide.

    10. Anonymous says:

      I thought America is home of the FREE.. doesn’t sound like anyone is free anymore with all these stupid rules and laws!

    11. [...] week’s Supreme Court decision in Kentucky v. King has civil-libertarians and marijuana policy reformers in an uproar, and rightly so, but it’s not exactly the death of the 4th Amendment. [...]

    12. Russ adds: Something I failed to consider but someone brought it up on my Facebook. It reminds me of Ed Rosenthal’s joke about being in the service of the DEA as a ‘personal marijuana incinerator’.

      To wit: isn’t the smell of burning marijuana itself evidence of the destruction of contraband?

      If cops smell marijuana behind your door, you are in the act of incinerating criminal evidence, are you not?

      So, how long before “we smelled marijuana and we heard them trying to destroy it” turns into “we smelled marijuana WHICH MEANS they were trying to destroy it”? How would cops know whether the burning smell is the aroma of a fresh joint or a kilo in the fireplace? In other words, cops don’t need smell+sound, they really only need smell to establish those “exigent circumstances”.

      I predict an upswing in the fashioning of toilet paper tubes and dryer fabric softener sheets into personal odorless paraphernalia. Or more sales of these: http://www.smokebuddy.com/

    13. Guy says:

      regarding Editors note to Ozlanthos. Who would you have me support? four more years of slick tongue Obama or another neo-con like Mitt Romney?

      True Ron Paul may never be elected. That doesn’t mean you should be attempting to sway supporters away from him. That’s the very reason he is unlikely to win the nomination. everyone including you want to convince the voters he’s unelectable.

      I’ll tell you what, he”ll get my vote if I have to write him in.

      [Editor's note: Throw your vote away if you like...because a vote for Ron Paul is a symbolic gesture at best and a waste of one's vote at worse.

      NORML is non-partisan...not non-analytical...and pretty clearly Ron Paul is never going to win the GOP nomination and therefore never be elected president.

      BTW, Paul will not win the GOP nomination because NORML has identified the obvious, it is because neither the GOP or the nation supports libertarian political candidates. Regrettably, they never have--and may never do so (based on polling, surveys and election results).]

    14. Bobby D.Denning says:

      There may be ( the law ) on the outside , but be ready bullets for from the people. Civil War all over again! One might find more than they expect when it comes to closed doors. And that goes for both sides of any door. Does this include the policemans and on up doors as well? If you want anyone to break in your house,that’s on you. As for my door, if you have to use breaking and entering their are consequences that will be met . This can and will cause death to many people over sight, smell, and sound. CLEARLY you boys have’nt thought this through. If you had people would’nt be about to die ( especially children ).

      [Editor's note: Shooting cops will lead to your death or life sentence...not cannabis law reform.

      Get active politically to change the laws because believing that shooting cops who enter your home equates to freedom will only empower the government to keep maintaining another 70 years of Cannabis Prohibition.]

    15. Bobby D.Denning says:

      As We the People we are forced to concider this atrocity a threat to our lives. Lawsuits and body bags ,anybody?

    16. Sean says:

      Isn’t smoking cannabis by definition destroying evidence? If it is, then merely the smell of burning cannabis would create the exigent circumstances to enter a home without a warrant.

    17. Ozlanthos says:

      Dear Editor
      You better hope Ron Paul is elected. Marc Emery told me as much during the last election and he was on the money 100%!!! Like it or not, he is the only one who will truly help us in our goal (btw, if out-right total legalization isn’t your eventual goal, you are the ones wasting your time!!!).If not, the legalization of marijuana will be the least of your worries! And about “reform”…What does it mean to have reform if the DEA is still free to bust people at random or as part of a targeted sting? Why is any such half-baked ideal of legalization such as this a laudable goal? What good is any of it if the state’s recognizance of your right to grow, sell, or consume is no longer recognized as an affirmative defense in federal court?

      [Editor's note: You and Marc Emery can wish all you like...but the hard fact is that Ron Paul is never going to be the next president of the United States of America. Period.

      You can rightly complain that the country's cannabis laws are not perfect, but, one has to recognize the HUGE and VAST improvements in cannabis laws that have happened in the last 40 years because citizens organized and peacefully sought redress from the govt.

      Want more reform? Recruit more like-minded voters to join you (and groups like NORML) to improve the existing laws.]

    18. BZ says:

      I know of the Supreme Court cases mentioned in the article, but has there ever been an approach to sue the government regarding the scheduling of drugs as being unconstitutional? I mean marijuana is schedule I, but Marinol is a schedule III drug? By the way, didn’t the DEA outlaw all synthetic THC products? Furthermore, writing legislation saying marijuana has no accepted medical benefits without any scientific facts is unconstitutional. Furthermore, if it truly does not have any medical benefit then how can the federal government hand out marijuana to patients in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program? How did a medical marijuana law pass in Washington, DC… doesn’t Congress and the President have to sign off on that?

      My point is, has there ever been an attempt to sue the government regarding the scheduling system. A victory here would only result in a revamped scheduling system, but that could open the door.

      [Editor's note: There have been numerous rescheduling lawsuits: Notably NORML vs DEA (1972-1994), Gettman, NORML, et al vs DEA (1998-present). To date, unfortunately, the courts have ruled in favor of the government, not the citizenry.]

    19. Matt says:

      let’s be honest– government doesn’t listen and doesn’t care. They only care about power and control– not power and control over the government or the corporations, but YOU the individual.

      The only way to survive is to stay under the fascist radar and do what you do in secrecy. Everyone who comes here smokes so we all know what that’s like.

      Eventually though there needs to be a line in the sand– not just with marijuana, with liberty in general.

      Honestly this makes me want to go back to the 90s and listen to some “Cop Killer”– because that’s an action becoming increasingly justifiable

      [Editor's note: Killing another person, even a marauding cop, is not justified because you need or want to consume cannabis in your home.

      Two wrongs do not make right.]

    20. CW says:

      lol…long live the spoof lmao…Ive had vision problems since I was a yr and a half old…Im 28 now…I have problems sleeping @ nite, and deal w/ all sorts of emotional issues, I had knee surgery in 2000, and neck surgery in 2006…Our “leafy-green friend” is the only thing that alleviates ne of this…pills kill…bud doesnt. To take away our constitutional rights 2 privacy is a travesty and has been gettin worse over the yrs. In the past 20yrs, more and more ppl have began accepting the plant. Bc of this, our govt knows what they have 2 do, but they r 2 greedy and scared 2 actually allow our economy 2 flourish. Ive talked 2 all sorts of ppl, from my very own relatives to ppl that Id never even met before. This includes cops, doctors, military ppl, etc…all of them have said that if allowed, they would toke.

      By continually taking away our rights like this, our government is getting further and further away from what our fore-fathers actually wanted 4 this country. It says, “FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE”…not “FOR THE GOVERNMENT, BY THE GOVERNMENT IN ORDER 2 FILL THEIR POCKETS AND OWN INSATIABLE GREED!” What happened 2 inalienable rights? I want my rights dammit…not 2 be bossed around and have ppl bustin down my door.

    21. Mark says:

      Fascism now controls Amerika. Nothing new in the land of the sheep and the home of the slaves.

    22. Mark says:

      William S. Burroughs said it best, especially the part about prohibition and the war on drugs, people not being able to mind thier own business, how the USA is nothing but a nation of finks and the American dream is a LIE.

      Thanksgiving Prayer

      For John Dillinger, In hope he is still alive

      Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts

      thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison –

      thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger –

      thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot –

      thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes –

      thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through –

      thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces –

      thanks for “Kill a Queer for Christ” stickers –

      thanks for laboratory AIDS –

      thanks for Prohibition and the War Against Drugs –

      thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business –

      thanks for a nation of finks — yes,

      thanks for all the memories… all right, let’s see your arms… you always were a headache and you always were a bore –

      thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

    23. teah says:

      here is the real thing. anyone who uses marijuana on a daily basis for pain or whatever they use it for, knows not to have their place smell like pot.

      the issue with this comes with the cops. Now, I am not suggesting that all cops are corrupt, but all it takes is ONE to come up to your door and claim they smelled pot. At the end of the day, its their word against yours, and their word would turn up the evidence needed to support it

    24. Bobby D.Denning says:

      The Supreme Court { question }: Are you or are you NOT capable of making sound decisions? This is whe n the captain is releaved of duty until otherwise deemed fit by The People. What they suggest is dea-th or distruction. Need for immediate shut down and reconstruction on a very grand scale for our govt. Yes, i question the Supreme Courts mentality.

    25. Jeanne says:

      I posted something about the Supreme court and I guess it wasn’r like, by who ever reads these

    26. [...] NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and Enjoy: [...]

    27. [...] Writing for the Supreme Court in a 1980 case called Payton v. New York, Justice Stevens reiterated: In terms that apply equally to seizures of property and to seizures of persons, the Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house. Absent exigent circumstances, that threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant. The smell of a burning flower and the sound of “scurrying” are now the “exigent circumstances” needed to “reasonably” cross that “firm line” without a warrant. ….go to NORMAL for the full deal. [...]

    28. Bobby D.Denning says:

      Why do they think that when something that’s working needs fixing? this will keep them on bottom so they can continue to screw up. Supreme? not. Any fool can make a fools decision, but to make the right one is another matter entirely.

    29. Albert Jimenez says:

      If we are serious about our rights as activists on this issue, it is time to change our behavior. Anyone serious about legalization should give up smoking, and organize. Some plans of action would be a coordinated boycott of alcohol-possibly main stream consumption in general. A mass “turn-in” at a metropolitan police station, swamping law enforcement resources is another action. I’m sure there are several actions, but what is key is a coordinated effort among many.

    30. tlc says:

      I read not long ago that a medical strain was developed that did not produce a high…so next up, produce a strain that does not produce an odor, or make it smell like something common.

      Of course, keep active too. We must be doing well for such desperate measures. Too bad the same effort isn’t given to stopping child molesters.

    31. Rather Not Say says:

      Editor – With regard to your statements about Ron Paul… are you speaking for yourself or for NORML? Please clarify.

      If NORML is telling readers not to support a candidate who vocally stands for many of the same ideals as NORML, I think it’s time to discontinue my own support of NORML.

      As a writer, you’re welcome to your opinions and to voice them. Just realize that to many people, the concept of Ron Paul getting a major party nomination is no more outlandish than a serious debate and consideration of cannabis legal reform and legalization. Personally I support both, while firmly believing that I’ll see neither in my lifetime.

      [Editor's note: NORML supports Ron Paul, always has, more than 25 years. That does not change the fact that the man is not going to win the GOP nomination, and of course will not win the general election. It is not possible. This is not an opinion...it is a political fact.

      NORML's not telling people who to support for president, just stating the real world political landscape so as to disabuse the delusions of people who think that a long-suffering presidential candidate who can't get any real traction in their own party is going to become president, and therefore magically legalize cannabis when they arrive in the oval office. Even if Paul was elected--pause for laughter--a majority of Congress' 535 member still have to pass legislation that would amend the Controlled Substance Act/change existing treaties, etc...A president can't end almost 75-years-old of federal law and court precedents with the swipe of an executive pen.

      Indeed, some reformers may well want to support a Republican candidate who supports legalizing all drugs to mention such every blue moon as a candidate--who has no chance to win--Ron Paul is indeed a declared candidate, along with Gary Johnson. Currently, with the declared candidates from both major parties, these two no doubt are the most reform oriented for those who would treat the presidency as a single issue election].

    32. old vet says:

      the fact that police hear only a load of buckshot being chambered .should be a deterent to being the first home invader to come through the door .who in his right mind wants to be the first in a body bag

      [Editor's note: Tough guy...you'll be the dead one when a dozen cops machine gun you. Want to deter a cop from coming into your home to enforce Cannabis Prohibition? Please contact your elected officials to end the Prohibition right now. Does this not make more sense?

      That will be better for you and your loved ones than burying you after the cops are NOT deterred by ill-placed bravado.]

      [Paul Armentano also responds: Perhaps this unfortunate story will provide some needed perspective regarding the notion of violently confronting police:

      http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/article_d7d979d4-f4fb-5603-af76-0bef206f8301.html

      SWAT team fired 71 shots in raid

      The Pima County Regional SWAT team fired 71 shots in seven seconds at a Tucson man they say pointed a gun at officers serving a search warrant at his home.

      Jose Guerena, 26, a former Marine who served in Iraq twice, was holding an AR-15 rifle when he was killed, but he never fired a shot, the Sheriff's Department said Monday after initially saying he had fired on officers during last week's raid.]

    33. Dan says:

      Very very sad

    34. John says:

      CORY!!!

      Canada is quickly turning into America junior, save yourself!! Don’t bother coming here, it is just more of the same!!! In fact more prisons are in the works. Canada sucks now as a result of the Harper majority. He didn’t even get 40% of the popular vote, which means 60% of Canadians voted for someone else!

    35. John says:

      I cannot donate enough to NORML.com and NORML.ca!!!

    36. Voice of the resistance says:

      Americans want it for free. They want it fat free, they want it stress free,they want it drug free, and now they want it debut free. Our federal goverment lacks credibillity, and is 14.3 trillion dollars in debut.Our goverment does not have two red cents to rub together! The 4TH amendment is the law and they have broken it!

    37. noktirnal says:

      Get involved politically, but don’t vote for Ron Paul. Even though he is the ONLY candidate in ANY party to stste that he believes an adult should be able to do as he pleases with his own body. Voting for a candidate that believes this is the only way one will be elected. Existing laws are unconstitutional and need to be repealed, not “improved”. The office of the president has complete control on the matter of marijuana and any drug. Congress gave the power to the executive branch with the Controlled Substances Act. There is one man who has the say of what is scheduled and what is not. The law gives that man the power to add and remove as necessary. Congress does not have to pass anything for MJ or any other drug to become legal. Same with becoming illegal. The president is that man’s boss. The president appointed that man.
      I find the editor hypocritical to tell people to NOT vote for the only candidate that supports full abolishment of prohibition, while telling them they SHOULD be politically active and improve on unconstitutional statutes.

      [Editor's note: NORML does not tell people who to vote for...only stating the political reality of the day. BTW...Paul is not the only candidate in the race who favors ending Cannabis Prohibition. Former NM governor Gary Johnson (who NORML also supports, just like Paul) favors ending Prohibition of all drugs.

      However, is it not important to recognize that supporting two people who're running for president who support legalizing all drugs does not equate to either of them having much or any chance at all to win the GOP nomination, and more importantly, a national election?]

    38. Don says:

      I give up. Our leaders would rather lock up half the country than to allow us to live our lives in peace with our beloved plant.

      So, I’m now becoming a drunk. I just can’t stand to live with the paranoia of getting busted any more :(

      That said, given the chance, I’ll vote against every prohib that I am aware of! Fast approaching 60, I’m no longer confident that marijuana will be legal in my lifetime; and I was so sure back in the 70′s it would be legal by 1980…

    39. Nic says:

      I choose freedom

    40. Ben says:

      I posted a comment on here earlier mentioning 2nd amendment rights and you removed it, editor.

      It may have been a bit rash but guess what…
      TO ME, having my liberty completely stripped away is akin to DEATH.
      The second amendment exists for a reason, despite what you seem to believe with your pacifist attitude.

      To believe that it isn’t justified or “right” to defend your life by killing goes AGAINST THE NATURAL order. See where that leads you.

      As for your political bias against Ron Paul. Who made you a seer of the future?? Hope is a powerful tool, don’t squash it you punk.

      Course you will probably just remove this comment, proving your bias, just like all the rest.

      [Editor's note: Posting violent threats to police on NORML's webpage will get deleted every time...]

    41. dbeall says:

      just thnkin it would be funny to come up with a strain that smells like bacon when burned.

    42. BZ says:

      [Editor's note: There have been numerous rescheduling lawsuits: Notably NORML vs DEA (1972-1994), Gettman, NORML, et al vs DEA (1998-present). To date, unfortunately, the courts have ruled in favor of the government, not the citizenry.]

      I see one is still pending (1998-present), is this an ongoing case? Has any foundation been set on what accepted medical use is? With Congress and the President signing a law for medical marijuana in DC, would that not be proof the Congress and the President acknowledge acceptable medical use? If so, would that be enough to prove accepted medical use?

      [Editor's note: The Congress and the president did not approve DC's medical cannabis law (which is still not in effect). The voters of DC in 1998 passed an initiative and in 2009 the DC City Council passed a bill.

      The Congress could ban medical cannabis in DC tomorrow if it chooses to do so...

      Currently, and unfortunately, the official position of the federal government is still that cannabis has no accepted medical value.]

    43. dbeall says:

      would that be considered turpiniod customization?

    44. tommas says:

      This is soooooo scary

    45. rev.sleezy says:

      Holy Smokes. Kiss your free ass good-bye. This sounds like Nazi Germany in America. I can’t believe it’s true But, It’s true.

      God Bless. See you arond on the 22?

      Rev.sLeezy

    46. Ben says:

      Don’t tread on me.

    47. holy says:

      i cant tell you how maney times i heard i cop say “i smell pot” just to search my pockets AND NOT find anything SO now its a free for all?????

    48. [...] week's Supreme Court decision in Kentucky v. King has civil-libertarians and marijuana policy reformers in an uproar, and rightly so, but it's not exactly the death of the 4th Amendment. Here's a look at [...]

    49. Igor says:

      Make sure you refine this post, it’s an important one, not just your run-of-the-mill NORML post. This post is a commentary on a historical precedence of great importance. Scholars of later ages will wonder how the United States devolved from a Republic to a fascist tyranny. The Supreme Court decisions ennumerated in your article represent several stepping stones. Therefore, this post is worth 100x more attention to detail than any other.

    50. [...] week's Supreme Court decision in Kentucky v. King has civil-libertarians and marijuana policy reformers in an uproar, and rightly so, but it's not exactly the death of the 4th Amendment. Here's a look at [...]

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