“Does the odor of raw marijuana emanating from a vehicle in which the defendant is an occupant provide sufficient probable cause for law enforcement officers to search the car and its occupants?” That was the question in the 2011 appellate court decision, Charles Meek v. State of Indiana.
But what about the inverse? How about when the odor emanates from the police vehicle — and the smell leads to the crime bust?
Last week from across the pond in Leicester, England, came the answer via an offbeat story involving smell from a cop car.
And though factually dissimilar from that Indiana Fourth Amendment case, the story in UK’s Metro about the “Flatulent Cop Leads Police to ‘Cannabis Factory'” was in its own fact-inverted way — redolent of the Meek case. Both were powered by police sense of smell.
The Meek case involved a warrant-less police search of Meek’s car. It came about when Indianapolis Metro Policeman Matthew Thomas stopped the car because he thought Meek was driving away from an accident scene.
So based on the policeman’s ‘reasonable suspicion’ of a crime and during the subsequent traffic stop, Officer Thomas smelled “the odor of raw marijuana emanating from the passenger cabin of the car.”
The state charged Meek with felony possession of a controlled substance when a pat-down search led to that discovery. Arguing no reasonable suspicion or probable cause, Meek moved to suppress the evidence obtained by the police during the search.
Sniffing out cannabis instead of something else.
The U.K. case concerned police officers in Leicester who “sniffed out a cannabis farm – after opening their patrol car windows because one officer kept breaking wind.” This led to the discovery a large quantity of marijuana inside a residence and the arrest of seven occupants.
The incessant flatulence of the as-yet unnamed police officer was purportedly the consequence of a recently started high-protein body builder’s diet.
It’s an ill wind that blows . . . .
Suffice it to say, though, that as most body-builders know, including that Leicester policeman and his malodorous inhaling fellow police officers, there’s a downside to eating high-protein foods, even if on a rare occasion, there’s a crime-fighting upside.
And finally, that’s not to say that the substitution of dark leafy greens and grains like Quinoa would have been preferable over a high-protein diet. Certainly, not for those police officers in an enclosed vehicle. After all, a raw veggie diet no matter how salubrious, also brings an ill wind.
Photo Credits:”Unknown strain,” by Mark, eggrole, at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution; “Kai puts his head out the window,” by Kai Hendry at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution; “No, I’m not passing gas,” by Stannate at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution.