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Does the smell of marijuana give a cop probable cause to enter and search an apartment?

College Station, TX |

My friend and i were sitting on the couch in his apartment as a knock was heard at the door, i quickly hid all paraphernalia so that it was not visible. My friend also has a small dog so as he answered the door for the officer he only opened it maybe one to two inches which would've made it impossible for the officer to see anything illegal. The officer asked him " have you been smokin' dope?" and before my friend could even answer the officer shoved the door open so hard that it nearly knocked down my 6'3'' 290 lb friend and yelled at us to sit down with our hands on our head. He then searched and found the marijuana in a nearby drawer and proceeded to ask my friend if he had permission to search the apartment, my friend then granted him permission out of fear and because he had already found everything illegal.

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Attorney answers 2


Yes, the smell of marijuana may create probable cause, particularly if it is very strong or there is some indication that its use is ongoing (like smoke or the sound of a bong). However, there are a number of legal issues raised by your explanation outside of the specific question that you asked. You also need to be aware that the officer may have evidence beyond smell alone. You need an attorney to check on that and give you a more detailed analysis than I can give you in this format. Good luck and check out NORML's website for detailed info on your legal rights as they relate to the Mary Jane.

This answer does not constitute or imply an attorney-client relationship, nor should it be construed as legal advice.


Generally, the purported smell of marijuana in a home is NOT sufficient to allow an officer to bust in without a warrant. However, if he claims that the door was opened to him and that he saw paraphenalia in plain site (and yes, officers lie because they know what it takes to give them the right to get in), then the officer could enter. If an officer was just walking by the house & said he smelled marijuana, he could not bust in - he would have to get a warrant, and that little smell alone would not likely sustain a warrant (or at least it would not sustain a challenge in court.)

When an officer knocks on the door, you do not have to answer. So, my question is why would the officer be knocking your door unless he had something else was at hand.

You should hire a lawyer to review the offense report and advise you on what the officer's claims are.

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