This link – sorry about its being a .pdf document – contains the official notes from the recent Supreme Court decision, which ruled against the unconstitutionality of what police did at an apartment complex in Kentucky.
To recap: a man had his apartment door kicked down by cops who were following up a staged crack buy. After the targeted dealer vanished into this man’s apartment building. the police had seen him enter the “breezeway” (is that something like a foyer or outdoor hall? I’ve never heard the term) and lost sight of him at the point when he entered this “breezeway”. The cops noted that said crack dealer could have entered either a room to the left or a different one to the right. After smelling marijuana smoke coming from the left room they knocked, announced their presence, and heard “a bustling” that was interpreted to be destruction of evidence…so when the tenants failed to answer, they went about the business of kicking their door in, in the style familiar to anyone who’d ever seen an episode of “COPS” on TV. Once inside the apartment, they discovered the tenant, his girlfriend and another guest had been passing a doob around, and so immediately arrested them. When they DID get the search warrant, they found more pot and some cocaine. For this, he was sentenced to ELEVEN years in prison.
Only after THAT was over and done with did they enter the OTHER apartment on the right, found the crack dealer this whole business had been about in the first place, and nabbed him.
Reading this entire document might be a bit of a challenge for the legally-unfamiliar – it certainly was for me, but I still plowed all the way through it- with all its talk of what constitutes “exigency” – the consequences that apparently provide the precedents that effectively allowed the permission for warrantless search. (The link does not go to page one of it, but rather to the page with the quote I’ve cited below; it will be easy enough to use your PDF reader or plugin to navigate to its beginning.)
This passage below should resonate with meaning to anyone familiar with any of the “Constitutional Rights 101 for Stoners” pamphlets handed out by many medpot advocates, and/or Don’t Get Busted – the familiar book by Ed Rosenthal and attorney William Logan – which remind the most frequently arrested people in the whole country – marijuana smokers, growers and distributors – to “flex their rights” before their lack of exercise causes them to just keep disappearing, more and more, as every day, month and year passes: (Emphasis mine)
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. Royer, 460 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.” Chambers, 395 F. 3d, at 577 (Sutton, J., dissenting). And even if an occupant chooses to open the door and speak with the officers, the occupant need not allow the officers to enter the premises and may refuse to answer any questions at any time. Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame for the warrantless exigent-circumstances search that may ensue.
The presence of police can certainly be intimidating, so actually remembering not to talk to them while they are demanding conversation is obviously liable to be difficult – particularly if you’ve snarfed up a blunt or two, and thus suddenly find yourself having a gigantic panic attack as you begin to feel your worst fears amplified fivefold: there’s no denying that there is a well-known increased susceptibility to stress-based confusion that pot – no matter how well it has helped you medically, or how generally positive its effects as a multi-purpose tonic have been for you – can still potentially cause even in the mind of the experienced toker.
Thus in light of what has happened in the nation’s highest court I recommend that all active marijuana users, distributors and/or growers – regular or not – do the following things, as soon as you possibly are able:
- Purchase and read the above book, Don’t Get Busted, by Rosenthal and Logan
- Make it your sincerely-attended-to, honestly-worked-towards goal to move ASAP to a state in which voters have approved the legal use and distribution of medical marijuana.
California is probably the best of these, with its city and state laws most open to it. Cities such as San Francisco and Santa Cruz have made marijuana arrests “lowest priority” for their police departments. If you live in a state like Kentucky, expect the opposite…and be ready for the possible consequences.
Of course, since I’ve been born and raised in – and still live in – good old golden Cali – and fabulous Frisco is my current home, streets brimming with retail storefronts adorned with the insignias we know and love: the green cross, or the green caduceus and sometimes just the familar bracted leaf…perhaps, I’ve got a wee bit of bias.
Sometimes, I feel that this preponderance of pot stores, and the general change of attitude regarding marijuana in movies and on television, represent the sole thing about this awfully baleful 21st century that could be thought of as any improvement at all when it is compared with the prior one.