California: In a 3-0 ruling Wednesday, the Second District Court of Appeal said past decisions make it clear that police in California can’t enter a residence without a warrant merely because they smell marijuana.
Nowhere in the nine-page ruling (PDF viewable at The People v. Rosland Nadine Torres et al) was there any reference to the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 2011 decision in Kentucky v. King. In that case, the court ruled 8-1 that police who smelled marijuana outside an apartment were entitled to kick in the door and enter without a warrant to prevent the destruction of evidence. As it turned out, the apartment wasn’t the one where a suspected drug dealer was located, but police found drugs after breaking in, and caught up with their man in a later search. The high court didn’t mention any distinction between crimes punishable by imprisonment or merely a fine.