Odor of burnt marijuana leads to motorcyclist’s arrest

A motorcycle ride on the Monday after Christmas turned into a game of hide-and-seek with a Palm Beach police officer. The officer was on patrol just before 2 p.m. when he spotted a “suspicious motorcycle” parked unattended in a private driveway in the 1900 block of South Ocean Boulevard. He got out of his patrol car and looked around in an effort to locate the driver. “I then checked across the street on the private beach across from the lot and observed (a man) sitting on the rocks along the Atlantic Ocean smoking what appeared to be a marijuana blunt,” a term for marijuana rolled with the tobacco-leaf wrapper from a cigar.

“While standing approximately 15 feet above the subject on the private beach deck, I smelled the odor of burnt marijuana,” he said. When the officer identified himself, the man “looked at me and immediately tossed the marijuana blunt down on to the sand. I asked him to pick (it) up, however he pretended that he could not locate it in the sand. I asked him to walk up to me and sit down on the beach deck.” The officer then called for backup. After another officer arrived, the investigating officer “walked over to the exact location” where the beachgoer had been sitting and found a half-inch brown marijuana cigarette. Confronted with the blunt, the suspect insisted it was fake.

But the officer concluded: “The burnt brown cigarette was field tested and yielded a positive reaction for marijuana utilizing a Narcotest Kit #8.” The cigarette, which weighed .25 grams, was packaged and turned into the Crime Scene Evidence Unit locker. The suspect was arrested and released with a notice to appear in court for possession of marijuana. ‘Cigarette butts’ turn out to be — The previous Thursday, Dec. 22, an officer was parked in the 100 block of Royal Palm Way when he spotted a Toyota making an illegal left turn from South County Road. There were four people in the car.

The driver admitted his mistake but said he didn’t realize it had been an illegal turn until it was too late. The officer asked to see his driver’s license but he said he’d tossed it into the backseat earlier when the group had been to the beach. “As (he) searched for his driver’s license, I observed several cigarette butts in an ashtray but could not determine if they were cigarettes that had been filled with tobacco or marijuana,” the officer 
reported. “I also smelled the odor of an air freshener spray that, through my training and experience, know to be used at times to cover up the smell of burned marijuana.”

He asked the driver to step out of the car, and requested his date of birth so he could run a driver’s license check. Police communications found that he did have a license, so the patrol officer simply gave him a verbal warning about the illegal turn. But before he got back in his car, the officer asked if he could check for drugs or weapons. The driver said yes, and the three passengers also stepped out of the car. The officer asked all three if they had any illegal drugs.

One of the passengers “seemed extremely nervous” and “his hands began trembling” as he held on to his backpack, police said. He then admitted he had “a little bit of weed” in the pack and the officer found marijuana, a pipe, and a BIC lighter. The passenger was arrested, released and given a notice to appear in court on the marijuana charge. “A search of the rest of the vehicle yielded negative results as the cigarette butts I had noticed appeared to be from tobacco cigarettes,” the patrol officer reported.

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