Saturday, June 23, 2007

The list

From Rivrdog, I got a list in the mail, 32 Things Cops wish People Knew. One of them made me chuckle.
29. If you think you can fan all the pot smoke out of the car before we smell it, good luck.

You know what dope smells like, right? It's an odor that is highly distinctive. Much like cigarette smoke is highly distinctive, the odor of burning marijuana, once learned, is never forgotten. The surprising thing is that I think marijuana smoke smells good, like a fresh-mown yard smells good. It's a nice, clean, natural odor to my nose. I like the smell of burning marijuana. If you've ever burned hemp rope, then you know the odor. It smells a lot like burning rope.

The legal problem is that because marijuana is illegal, and we can't use illegal activity in Court, sometimes we're asked in Court if we know, to a certainty, what burning marijuana smells like. Marijuana doesn't come with a seal of approval, or with a USDA label, so knowing what you have in your hand is really marijuana can be hard to articulate in a Court of Law. Except for the wisdom of the United States Army.

In April of 1975 I was a young, fresh, newly-minted lieutenant, undergoing training in Armored warfare at Fort Knox, KY. The Army had a drug problem and was trying to eradicate that problem. Young lieutenants were often the first-line against illicit drug use and were called to testify in Courts Martial. The Army decided to teach all its young officers the smell of burning marijuana. The Army obtained a quantity of good marijuana, tested it for purity and assigned medical officers to instruct other officers in a closed setting. We all filed into a class room, where armed MPs locked the doors. The medical officer then hand-rolled a number of pharmaceutical grade marijuana cigarettes and passed them around, lit, for us to sample, smell, touch, and taste. After an hour, those same MPs loaded us in buses and vans and took us home. High as kites.

I can testify to a certainty that I was taught to identify the odor of burning marijuana by the US Army at Fort Knox, KY, in April, 1975. I have so testified on numerous occasions.


Bob@thenest said...

Well, that makes two of us!

Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. Was the First Sergeant of a Security Police squadron and also served for the Group commander. We had three squadrons, one for law enforcement and flight line security and two for missile security out in the field.

It was decided that I needed to be "certified" so I could testify when (Note: not "if") necessary, so I was exposed to it, but not the pharm grade stuff you did.

That was in 1980 and I can still recognize the odor today.

j said...

I lived with a girl who smoked it from the time she got up 'til she went to sleep at night. You never forget the smell. The girl was a long sad story with an unhappy ending. . . . Regardless of what they say, marijuana is addictive.

frannie said...

Your nephew almost had his car torn apart by an officer. The officer came to assist when the boy's car dropped it's motor on a roadway. He smelled what he thought was marijuana and told me I needed to have a talk with my child and was lucky he didn't impound the car then and pot in the car...only a lovely stick of patchouli incense...that I had given to him. Ah well, lesson learned... no incense in the car. :(