Drug War

Sir, Your Perfectly Legal Plants Smell Like Marijuana

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A few weeks ago, I noted the remarkably keen sense of smell exhibited by Pinellas County, Florida, sheriff's deputies, who claimed they could tell, standing outside the homes of people who had purchased hydroponic gardening equipment, which ones had marijuana plants inside, simply by following their noses. But the Tampa Bay Times reports that the deputies' olfactory perceptions are not always accurate:

According to a Sheriff's Office report, detectives saw [Shane] Metler's car at Simply Hydroponics [a Largo store monitored by a surveillance camera] on Dec. 18, 2010. On the evening of July 7, two detectives and a deputy knocked on Metler's door.

He said the detectives told him they had gotten complaints from his neighbors about cars coming and going, and they had detected the smell of growing marijuana coming from his home, both charges he vehemently denies.

Metler, 35, allowed them to search the house he shares with his girlfriend. They did not find any marijuana or pot plants, but did find a soil-free hydroponic system being used to grow legal plants, according to their notes.

"I have to admit, it really shook us up," Metler said. "So, for the next four hours, we were pacing around the house and just bewildered, shocked. It really was disrupting."

Metler said he consented to the search because he knew he wasn't doing anything illegal.

But, he said, the visit put him in a "lose-lose situation, where I either look guilty or give up my rights as a citizen."

Another customer of Simply Hydroponics, Jeremy Harris, was visited by a dozen or so deputies who claimed to be acting on an anonymous tip. He consented to the search, which turned up nothing illegal. He told the Times:

They looked like full SWAT. They've got the vests and assault rifles. It just seemed like an awful excessive amount of force for somebody that is maybe just growing marijuana on the property. They showed up with enough force to deal with a drug cartel….

It doesn't seem right for them to be watching a business and then harassing the customers, basically just for shopping at that business.

The paper identified 34 such "knock and talk" searches by the sheriff's office between January 1, 2010, and September 15, 2011, 12 of which "found no marijuana and no marijuana plants."

Back in the early 1990s, when the Drug Enforcement Administration was carrying out searches like these under Operation Green Merchant, I asked a spokesman how often they came up empty. He said the DEA did not keep track of that figure and professed surprise at the idea that anyone would want to know.

Lest you think that attitude is limited to law enforcement officials, note that Jeremy Harris' mother, with whom he lives, did not share his negative reaction to the search of their home:

"I don't feel they violated my rights. They asked to search and I gave them permission," Nancy Harris said.

Harris said she was "happy" detectives searched her home because it showed dedication to fighting drug use and sale, an effort she supports.

Harris also said she felt the deputies acted professionally, taking special care not to disturb her three grandchildren.

"They didn't scare the children. They didn't disturb the children. They were very polite, and apologetic afterward," she said.

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]

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60 responses to “Sir, Your Perfectly Legal Plants Smell Like Marijuana

  1. Harris said she was “happy” detectives searched her home because it showed dedication to fighting drug use and sale, an effort she supports.

    And people wonder why legalization initiatives fail. Or how drug warriors get elected again and again.

    1. She was probably just high on prescription meds. Happens all the time.

    2. Gotta love these submissive poodles of city-Statism! Think we’ll ever domesticate that White Indian, cut his hair, and get him a real job?

      1. yeah, didn’t he quote shit like…

        No one should ever work.

        Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you’d care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working…

        The Abolition of Work
        by Bob Black (1985)
        http://www.whywork.org/rethinking/whywork/abolition.html

        1. Yeah, hard work never killed anyone, but why take a chance?

          1. …cardiovascular disease.

            Work Kills.

            P.S. Don’t forget to read Lisa Cullen’s A Job to Die For: Why So Many Americans Are Killed, Injured or Made Ill at Work and What to Do About It. Common Courage Press, 2002.

        2. WORK!?

    3. If we have a minimum age to vote, why isn’t there a maximum one? Same with driving.

      1. How about you get to vote once in a lifetime? Choose wisely.

    4. I was happy they searched my home for Jews, since I’m not a Jew. or something like that. Actually, I am a little bit Jew, but who isn’t anymore?

    5. Thanks a lot Mrs Harris, for “allowing” police to utterly waste their time searching your home for something you knew in advance was not therre.

      Rather than just tell them that and send them on their way so that they could use their minutes/hours for more important work somewhere, somehow – you allowed them to pretty much blow off a good portion of their day doing absolutely nothing of value.
      That’s a great way to use valuable public resources. Thanks again, dum dum

      1. The ludicrous ‘war on drugs’ is a waste of /valuable/ resources on its own.

  2. “The paper identified 34 such “knock and talk” searches by the sheriff’s office between January 1, 2010, and September 15, 2011, 12 of which “found no marijuana and no marijuana plants.””

    I think they could save a lot of time by just picking homes at random, since 35% probably have marijuana anyway.

    1. Dammit! Don’t give them ideas!

  3. But, he said, the visit put him in a “lose-lose situation, where I either look guilty or give up my rights as a citizen.”

    Who cares how you look to dishonest law enforcement officials?

    1. I would say they shouldn’t have consented to a search but then maybe they would have been continually harassed until they did. Until judges start throwing out these “I smelled MJ from across the street! No really!” bullshit justifications the cops can keep doing this.

  4. Feck! Typical lying oinkers. Got bacon?

  5. The paper identified 34 such “knock and talk” searches by the sheriff’s office between January 1, 2010, and September 15, 2011, 12 of which “found no marijuana and no marijuana plants.”

    Hey, a 65% success rate is still a passing grade!

    1. That’s from the Beavis & Butthead Book of Quotes, right?

  6. Hey you, women at the end of the story. Yeah you the old one with your grandkids. FUCK YOU.

  7. Couldn’t we get a quote from someone who told the cops no?

    “I don’t feel they violated my rights. They asked to search, I told them no, and they went away.” Joan Harris said.

    Harris said she was “glad” detectives went away because it shows the 4th amendment still works, an effort she supports.

    Harris also said she felt the deputies acted professionally, taking special care not to shoot her three dogs.

    “They were very apologetic for even trying something so lame. I kind of feel sorry for grown men who don’t have anything useful to do with their lives.” she said.

  8. I live in Indiana and they can search for “odor”

    Sucks.

    1. Don’t they at least have to get a warrent?

      1. Trippin’ Lockdown has to be as tight as Gambol Lockdown in our Calvinist/Capitalist hyperState!

      2. Exigent circumstances.

        An emergency situation requiring swift action to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, or to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect, or destruction of evidence. There is no ready litmus test for determining whether such circumstances exist, and in each case the extraordinary situation must be measured by the facts known by officials.

        What could possibly go wrong?

  9. Metler said he consented to the search because he knew he wasn’t doing anything illegal.

    That is NOT a reason to consent to a search. It leaves you completely vulnerable to a charge of possessing whatever the cop happened to have with him.

    If a cop asks to search your home, ALWAYS refuse. He might do it anyway, but if you consent, you’re fucked. If he says “Ok, we can wait around here while I get a warrant”, then make him wait, and call an attorney for yourself who will watch the search.

    -jcr

    1. If you let them search your house, they can use anything they find, and it doesn’t have to be illegal drugs or whatever they were looking for.

      At least with a warrant they have to specify what they are searching for.

      Of course, they might come back with a warrant and a SWAT team, break your door down, toss in some flash bangs, shoot your cat, and beat you senseless.

  10. Just curious. Does Nancy Harris support the Constitution of the United States? Does she even have any idea what it is, or how many Americans have died defending it?

    1. Yeah. She might as well fucking move to Venezuela.

      1. the constitution allows for people to consent. it’s a CHOICE.

        she isn’t doing anything to disgrace the constitution, any more than somebody who chooses not to carry.

        1. If you don’t use the rights enshrined therein, you make the choice to lose those rights and thereby disgrace the Constitution.

        2. Fuck off, dunphy.

  11. lol, OK man I need to get some of them plants, ASAP!

    http://www.privacy-surf.tk

  12. they had detected the smell of growing marijuana

    These clowns should be tested in public double-blind experiments. Any failure, immediate firing without pension.

    1. No, firing is impractically harsh and the pow-lease union would never consent. Annual certification in a double-blind experiment conducted by an outside contractor would be about the best we could hope for.

  13. note that in states with legal medical mj, smell cannot be used for PC, since it doesn’t establish ILLEGAL mj, only mj.

    another perk of medical mj

  14. In my home state, Missouri, they also do this for people who buy cold medicine…

    Yes, it happened to me, a dozen police in body armor and such asking if I would consent to a search. And of course, they wouldn’t take no for an answer, not letting me go back inside until I finally consented.

  15. Proper procedures.

  16. If they didnt find MJ in the home, did they keep searching until they found where the smell was coming from?
    Fucking liars.

  17. Sorta OT. We support MOSI in Tampa, and just got a flyer in the mail advertising this little gem. More here.

    Excepting government agencies, I can’t think of any other entities which can gin up sympathy by publicly portraying their horrendous failures as successes by the opposition which therefore require more support. How long before the kids visiting MOSI will see a Fast and Furious exhibit?

    1. isn’t it illegal for the federal government to use public funds to propagandize the homeland?

      oh, and it’s sponsored by the yankees. figures.

  18. Nancy Harris is a bitch ass cunt.

  19. I’m a former Largo resident, now living in SC. I had 8 deputies show up at my home here with no warrant based on an “anonymous tip” that there was drug activity going on. The truth of the matter is that a former neighbor who was awaiting trial for molesting my 13 year old daughter called in the tip as revenge for his being arrested. To make matters worse, when I answered the door, they addressed me using the child molester’s name. When they asked for permission to search my home, I told them to get the hell off my property. I said I knew where the “tip” came from and defied them to get a warrant, because they didn’t even know who they were looking for, and I’d make damn sure the matter hit every news outlet in town. I told them I would get a kick out of seeing a judge issue a search warrant based on such flawed information, then I slammed the door in their faces. They walked around my home for a few minutes and left. Never saw them again. Exercise your rights, people! Don’t allow yourself to be harassed by vindictive assholes and bullied by “bad ass” cops acting on bad information.

    1. “Former Largo resident violently denies molesting his 13 year old daughter”

      1. Ain’t it the truth.

  20. The reason they show up with all that gear is that they have to justify it. It’s expensive. Sure, they knew that they weren’t in any real danger, but if anyone asked, based on their training and experience, drug users could be dealers, and drug dealers often have weapons.

    And I don’t think the grandmother really stopped to think what the police were up to. They were looking for any possible way to lock up the father of her grandchildren, for a very long time. And she enjoyed giving them the opportunity.

    1. Who knows – maybe she never liked the father of her grandchildren anyway. Wouldn’t be the first mother-in-law to give a man some grief.

    2. Hopefully Granny will have to find new living arrangements, soon.

  21. yeah wasting resources and peoples time on a benign crime and a benign substance while also coming up empty isn’t a crime its just really REALLY stupid!

  22. They looked like full SWAT. They’ve got the vests and assault rifles.

    No, they look like soldiers – which is essentially what they are. It’s why it’s called a war on drugs and why they refer to all of us as civilians.

    1. Exactly! Now what is this “legal plant” that smells so much like MJ that cops were willing to sack his house with a platoon of narcotics officers?

  23. “I don’t feel they violated my rights. They asked to search and I gave them permission,” Nancy Harris said.

    Harris said she was “happy” detectives searched her home because it showed dedication to fighting drug use and sale, an effort she supports.

    Guaranteed, she’ll be one of the first residents of the FEMA camps.

    1. No, she’s a useful idiot. They’ll probably coopt her as a snitch. She’s already their stooge.

      1. Right. They are the first ones they’ll need there.

  24. the visit put him in a “lose-lose situation, where I either look guilty or give up my rights as a citizen.”

    Neatly sums up the untenable situation authoritarian assholes like these cops put law-abiding citizens in.

    I have zero reason to expect anything even remotely like this ever will happen to me. But if, through some bizarre development of circumstance, I ever open my door in response to the doorbell or knocker and find a team of armed law enforcement officers standing on my front stoop, asking if they can come in and search my house, and they have no warrant, I really hope I can live up to my own expectations of how I think I would act, and tell them “no fucking way.” Click, door closed and locked, end of story.

    I have nothing to hide, because I have nothing illegal in my house. But just because I have nothing to hide doesn’t mean I have any obligation whatsoever to meekly allow the police to come clomping through my house and looking around at all my stuff.

  25. “They didn’t scare the children. They didn’t disturb the children. They were very polite, and apologetic afterward,” she said.

    Rest assured the swat team knew they weren’t going to find anything – otherwise they would have shot the dogs and then asked questions. Fuck these pigs and their socialization process. Also bootlickers like this bitch really drag me down.

  26. NEVER consent to searches! NEVER consent to searches! NEVER…NOT EVER…consent to searches. I tell all my clients this and anyone else that appears to be listening. But people still keep consenting to searches. I don’t get it.

  27. I hate how insane and corrupt the police forces are.

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  29. Thanks a lot Mrs Harris,Rather than just tell them that and send them on their way so that they could use their minutes/hours for more important work somewhere, somehow i think they could save a lot of time by just picking homes at random, since 35% probably have marijuana anyway.

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