Officers can use smell to justify search of homes, KS Supreme Court says

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A divided Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that police can rely exclusively on their sense of smell to provide probable cause to do preliminary search of a home for drugs.

The ruling came in a case where Lawrence police entered a man's apartment to search after saying they detected a strong smell of raw marijuana. Lawrence Hubbard appealed his conviction on misdemeanor drug charges, arguing that the Lawrence officers could not justify the search without a search warrant based only on their ability to smell.

The state argued that probable the security sweep the officers conducted before getting a search warrant was appropriate to ensure no one inside Hubbard's apartment destroyed possible evidence in the case.

The court ruled Friday on a 4-3 vote.