Virginia Cops Claim Superhuman Marijuana-Sniffing Abilities

Police officers in Chesapeake, Virginia, have developed the ability to smell marijuana in cars as they cruise down the highway, even when the police have their windows up. Or, at least, according to a report in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot last week, that's what they are claiming.

Chesapeake, Virginia police department
"We drive our patrol car with the vents on, pulling air from the outside in, directly into our faces," Officer Barrett Ring said late last year in court during a preliminary hearing, according to a transcript of the proceedings. "Commonly, we'll be behind vehicles that somebody in the vehicle is smoking marijuana, and we can smell it clear as day."

Smelling the odor of marijuana would create probable cause to stop and search a vehicle. Ring said police would follow a car until there were no other cars in the area so they could make sure it was indeed that vehicle from which the odor of weed was emanating.

Defense attorneys and civil libertarians are pronouncing themselves mind-boggled by the claim.

"The idea that police can drive behind a car and smell marijuana is preposterous," said Assistant Public Defender Matthew Taylor. "What do we need drug dogs for if (police) can drive behind cars and smell marijuana?"

The police were claiming powers verging on the "supernatural," he said.

"It stretches the imagination that the police can drive down the road and hone in on a car," agreed ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis.

Willis said that traffic stops based solely on an officer's sniffing from a police car will draw legal challenges. "Experts will have to tangle over this and decide," he predicted.

So far, no cases have been thrown out, although Taylor tried unsuccessfully to make that happen in a recent case. In that case, police claimed they smelled marijuana in a vehicle while driving down the highway and pulled it over. But the issue of their amazing olfactory abilities wasn't addressed by the court because police also said they smelled marijuana when they approached the vehicle on foot.

Other area defense attorneys who had cases where police made similar claims said they had not challenged the searches because police had reasons to conduct the traffic stops.

The practice is apparently limited to Chesapeake Police, according to the Virginian-Pilot's survey of local law enforcement agencies. Suffolk County prosecutor Phillips Ferguson said he hadn't heard of the practice, but expected it to catch on.

"It's very creative policing," he said, but added that if police were using the moving automobile sniff as their as their sole basis for making a traffic stop, that might be successfully challenged. "I'm not saying they wouldn't have been justified in stopping the car, but it's pushing the line," Ferguson said.

Instead, he recommended that if police smell the odor of marijuana coming from a passing vehicle on the road, they find some other pretext to pull it over.

Public defender Taylor said he challenged the vehicle search in his case because he wanted to challenge the validity of the technique. "If cops can get away with this, they will have total authority," he said.

Chesapeake, VA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

When they claim they can explain why marijuana is illegal

to begin with and don't ignore the reality of alcohol's reign of terror in their explanation, I'll listen real carefully to what they have to say. Til then it's just Americans behaving badly, indulging in the most despicable, flagrant and violence promoting hypocrisy, dragging the country through the mud because they can't admit what is indisputable, that cannabis is much safer than alcohol when it really counts.

Man, I'm sure glad I've never

Man, I'm sure glad I've never had to travel to that whole quadrant of the East Coast.   From everything I've read it seems like a total police state.   Scary stuff.    I'll stay up here in the Colorado Rockies thank you very much, and I pity an marijuana consumers who are unfortunate enough to live in that hellhole.

"supernatural" lol

Common stuff here in southern Rhode island...probably the number one reason anyone even gets pulled over besides seatbelts nowadays...

Could cops have anything less

Could cops have anything less to do, what a joke, leave it to the south.

Another Reason to Legalize Pot!

The alleged aroma of pot gives cops an end-run around the 4th Amendment. Legalize and that will be one less flimsy excuse for them to abuse the citizens.

Reply to comment | StoptheDrugWar.org

You should feel comfortable in your dentist practice, which is more commonly known as Novocain. Dante might look sweet and cuddly when he falls asleep with his iPad, but get him to patient the dentist is not a magic bullet in fighting tooth decay. A dentist is a doctor who takes care of teeth, so you can enjoy optimal dental and physical health. Repair is also an essential part of restorative dentistry. Want to tell patient the dentist.

Agree

I can smell cigarettes from the cars sometimes in front of me. And a couple times I've smelled pot riding on my motorcycle. It's not farfetched.

Probable cause

Here in Massachusetts courts have ruled that smelling pot in a car does not constitute probable cause to search the car. It's nice, living in a progressive state where sanity rules.

And if they don't find anything?

How many cops are hauled in for unconstitutional searches when there's nothing found? I've been told by cops "your lucky we didn't find anything". Uh, no, your the criminal now, because without probable cause, and no reason to search, I didn't break the law.

The standard line for a search is "I smelled the strong odor of burning marijuana", whether anything was actually producing that odor is irrelevant. But if something were, even the unburnt marijuana in the trunk, that simple comment on the report makes an illegal search, legal.

'Man, I'm sure glad I've

'Man, I'm sure glad I've never had to travel to that whole quadrant of the East Coast.   From everything I've read it seems like a total police state.'

 

tidewater virginia is home to the largest naval base on the east coast, several other military bases, and psycho pat robertson's 700 club. one wouldn't expect such an area to be a bastion of enlightenment.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School