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Supreme Court upholds warrantless searches for drugs in homes


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Get a whiff of this — you might have some uninvited guests in your living room if you light up a joint at home: the police.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday cops who smell marijuana coming from someone’s home can enter if they have knocked on the door and believe the person is trying to get rid of the drugs.

"Cops can now say, 'We were justified in kicking down the door because we thought they were destroying evidence.' It's just a way for them to bypass the warrant requirement," said Theshia Naidoo, staff attorney with Drug Policy Alliance.

Some New Yorkers were outraged, saying the ruling is costing people their privacy.

"Why is the government intruding in our lives again?" said Derrick Young, 30, of the Financial District.

Nick Reider, 24, of Park Slope, agreed.

"It's definitely an invasion of privacy," he said. "There's a lot of other things in New York City that are more important than catching someone getting high in their own house."

And experts said the rulings could give more leeway to police when conducting searches, beyond the drug busts.

"A ruling like this — and its predecessors — allows the police to act first and to think later," said Jeffrey Fagan, professor of law and public health at Columbia University. It "allows [police] to be a bit more creative in establishing the circumstances under which they conduct a search."

Some 50,000 New Yorkers were arrested in 2010 for marijuana possession, representing about 15 percent of all NYPD arrests.

David Evans, special adviser to the Drug Free America Foundation and criminal defense attorney in New Jersey, said, "I think it will enable police to deal with more situations where evidence might be destroyed," but added that it's unclear whether it will have any major effect on drug busts.

The NYPD and ACLU declined to comment.

(with Erik Ortiz)

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