Remember those scratch n sniff stickers growing up? It seems weird that, somehow, you can put the smell of just about anything onto a sticker. Fruity smells are pretty popular: orange, grape, apple, strawberries. These stickers have evolved since I was a kid, and if you go on Amazon as much as I do (come on, you know you do), you’ll find scent stickers for popcorn, avocado, and yes, animal smells. Even unicorns. Hey, why not? My guess is that unicorns smell like a rainbow.
Now, just because something “smells like” an apple, or a bunny rabbit, doesn’t actually mean that there is an apple somehow engrained upon a sticker. I hate to break it to you, but your nose can be fooled. Your nose can lead you to false conclusions.
I remember growing up in St. Louis and at about age 15, I went to my first arena concert. It was at the “Checkerdome” (destroyed decades ago, but fond memories linger), and the band was Loverboy.
As I would come to learn, Checkerdome concerts were like a bubble of fairly lax marijuana laws in the same way that Indian reservations host more gambling options than other places. At the beginning of the show, as soon as the lights went out, half the place lit up. There was so much marijuana smoked in that building that even the folks not smoking weed would probably test positive for the next 30 days. So, when my dad picked me up from the show–he was pissed.
“Son, do you want to tell me something?”
“No dad, it was an awesome concert. They had these lasers, it was great.”
“Son, you were smoking weed, weren’t you?” I wasn’t. Not technically. But as I soon realized, every inch of me smelled like it. I have a married friend whose wife uses a similar test to smell for evidence of cheating, but that’s a story for another day.
Supposedly, law enforcement officers have better scent detection than the rest of us, but the conclusions they draw from their sniffs may not be as reliable as they once were. There are legal consequences to an officer detecting an odor of cannabis. If an officer smells the odor of marijuana coming from your car, everything & everyone in your vehicle can be searched.
The reason for this is that the odor of cannabis supposedly provides an officer probable cause that something illegal is afoot. Probable cause is a squishy subject, one that entire seminars and books are devoted to (well, maybe not an entire book, but several chapters). When we say that an officer has “probable cause,” we mean that the officer reasonably believes there is “a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.” Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213 (1983). Continue Reading