Getty images
Getty images

"The nose," as they say, "knows."

But sometimes, the nose can be totally full of shit. Just ask Jakayla Johnson, a 15-year-old high school student in Wake County, North Carolina.

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On April 21, Johnson was sent home from Garner Magnet High School and subsequently suspended for possession of marijuana. There was just one problem—she didn't have any pot on her. And, as subsequent drug tests would prove, she didn't have any pot in her, either. In fact, Johnson was pulled out of class and sent to an assistant principal's office entirely on the allegation by a school security officer that she smelled like weed.

Yes, Jakayla was kicked out of school for a smell.

Johnson's suspension was ultimately overturned after she and her mother appealed the decision, but her case illustrates the radical (and oftentimes racially tinged) effect the war on drugs has had in communities around the country—communities in which "possession" can be as insubstantial as a wafting aroma.

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Highlighting the frustratingly common absurdity of Jakayla's suspension is criminal defense attorney T. Greg Doucette, who took to Twitter to explain how law enforcement is able to justify these sorts of drug-related cases, and how the legal system frequently allows it to happen.

Perhaps surprisingly, Doucette is a Republican currently running for state senate. And while his party may have the reputation of being particularly harsh when it comes to criminal justice and the war on drugs, he's just as harsh on the zero-tolerance mindset that's brought us to this point.

T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Remember_that_wild_____story_in_Wake_County_a_few_weeks_ago__where_a_YBF_was_kicked_out_of_school_b_c_police_said_she__smelled_like_weed___
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Peep_this__https___t_co_ZCz5VAxvo7_TL_DR_summary__the_YBF_was_vindicated_and_the_allegations_were_bullsh_t_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___When_people_talk_about_the_school-to-prison_pipeline__This_is_that_
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Baseless_allegations_against_a_student_of_color__and_for_what_purpose__Not_a_damn_thing__
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Baseless_allegations_that_led_to_a__removal_from_school___mind_you__Not_a_talking-to_by_the_principal__not_detention__Being_shown_the_door__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___All_b_c_a_police_officer___SRO____Student_Resource_Officer_in_edu_talk__supposedly_smelled_weed_while_roaming_the_halls_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___And_actually_conducted_a_____ing__sniff_test___in_the_middle_of_class___without_even_a_drug_dog__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___I_mean_wtaf__Emphasis_on_actual__
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___The_overpolicing_of_our_schools_has_gotten_insane__The_War_on_Drugs_has_gotten_insane__This__here__is_insane__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Congratulations_to_15yo_Jakayla_Johnson__and_her_mom__for_standing_up_to_this_bullsh_t__May_more_have_her_diligence_and_success__👊_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___A_5-day_suspension_for__smelling_like_weed___My_God_some_people_are_stupid_____╯°□°)╯︵_┻━┻_

He then takes a step back to explain the legal issues at play.

T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___I_feel_like_I_m_that_old_crazy_guy_always_ranting_😞_But_let_me_be_clear_on_something___smell__is_not_evidence_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Smell__coupled_with_something_more__can_be_adequate_probable_cause_to__search___But_it_s_never_adequate_to_convict__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Often_that__something_else__is_the_officer_s_training_and_experience__something_they_re_taught_in_BLET_to_reference_just_about_always_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter____BLET____Basic_Law_Enforcement_Training__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___That_s_why_if_you_ever_see_the_police_narrative_for_a_search_arrest_warrant__you_ll_always_see__training_and_experience__mentioned_w__drugs_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___This_is_used_all__the__time__with_traffic_stops__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Car_pulled_for_expired_tags__driver_rolls_down_window__officer_claims_he_smells_weed_and_asks_to_search_the_car__
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Driver_says_no__officer_says_he_doesn_t_need_consent_b_c_smell_is_probable_cause__One_of_two_scenarios_generally_follows__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter____1__Usually_driver_consents_to_the_search__so_smell_or_lack_thereof_is_now_irrelevant__or_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter____2__Officer_searches_anyway_and_hides_behind__training_and_experience__in_his_report_on_the_incident_
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___If_something_is_found__evidence_is_rarely_suppressed_b_c_judges_are_elected_here_and_rarely_suppress_evidence_of_guilt_found_in_a_search_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Besides__who_are_judges_to_second-guess__training_and_experience___Pfft__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Or_if_nothing_is_found__the_driver_is_usually_cited_for_something_to_justify_the_initial_stop_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___And_if_for_whatever_reason_they_re_let_go__they_can_pursue_a_remedy_through_the_court_b_c__training_and_experience__is_a_defense_
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter____Plus_qualified_immunity__which_is_a_whole__nother_barrel_of_cow_manure__
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To illustrate the absurdity of these types of collars, Doucette brings up another example. This time, though, it wasn't a teenage girl, but a grown man.

A cop.

T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Let_me_give_you_a_real_world_example_of_why_the__smell_test__is_bogus__We_ll_call_my_client_Lee_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___A_year_or_two_ago__Lee_came_to_me_w__a_pending_weed_charge__He_was_is_a_LEO__Law_Enforcement_Officer___
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___He_was_on_his_day_off__traveling_out_of_his_jurisdiction__when_he_was_pulled_over_b_c_his_car__looked_like__a_car_involved_in_a_drive-by_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___His_service_weapon_was_on_the_dashboard__Police_cap_in_the_trunk__Etc__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___When_the_officer_approached__Lee_disclosed_he_was_a_LEO_and_consented_to_everything__b_c_his_department_s_policy_req_s_full_cooperation_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Officer_tossed_the_car_and_found_the_police_hat_in_the_trunk__and_an_empty_pill_bottle_under_the_seat__Claimed_the_bottle_smelled_like_weed_
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Lee_explained_it_was_an_old_bottle_for_pain_meds_when_he_d_had_a_recent_surgery__and_that_he_s_drug_tested_by_the_department_regularly_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Officer_opened_the_bottled__concluded_it_had_weed_in_it__and_charged_Lee_the_LEO_w__possession_of_weed_and_of_drug_paraphernalia_
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Claiming_the__residue__inside_the_bottle_was_enough_to_satisfy_possession__and_the_bottle_itself_was_the_paraphernalia_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Lee_disclosed_the_charge_to_his_department_and_was_promptly_fired_
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___When_we_went_to_court__DA_showed_me_the_police_report__No_dispute_on_the_details_aside_from_officer_s_insistence_of_smell____training___exp__
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___DA_only_wanted_to_do_a_first_offender_program___90-96__in_NC__named_for_the_statute_in_the_drugs_chapter_on_deferred_prosecutions__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Lee_refused__b_c_it_would_require_admitting_guilt_and_he_d_never_get_his_job_back__We_produced_his_clean_drug_tests__his_prescription__etc_
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Banners_and_Alerts_and_T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___State_eventually_tested_the_bottle__The__smells_like_weed__residue__Percocet_
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Case_was_dismissed_and_Lee_got_reinstated__But_it_took_the_better_part_of_2_years_waiting_for_labs__all_b_c_of_one_officer_s__smell__
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With that, Doucette begins to wrap things up…

T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Moral_of_the_story__that_15yo_black_girl_should_never_have_even_been_inconvenienced_by_that_SRO_over_the__smell__of_weed_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___And_most_certainly_should_never_have_been_suspended_for_5_days_
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Done_sermonizing_lol__court_is_wrapping_up_and_I_ve_gotta_head_to_a_meeting__Hope_y_all_have_a_blessed_day_☺️_
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…only to return to his tweetstorm a few hours later, to explain why this matters so much to him, personally.

T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Addendum_to_the_earlier_tweets__I_got_asked__essentially__why_I_care_about_that_situation_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___I_don_t_like_kids_being_targeted_or_abused__I_don_t_like_what_the_drug_war_and_zero_tolerance_have_done_to_our_courts__schools__and_country__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___And_tbqh_I_was_one_of_the__smelly_kids__in_HS__My_grandmother_smoked_cigarettes_and_my_clothes_smelled_like_it__
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___I_never_noticed__until_my_then-gf_told_me_my_junior_year__I_was__mortified___Could_ve_died_right_there_in_the_hallway__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___So_it_s_easier_for_me_to_put_myself_in_that_student_s_shoes__being_the_focus_of_attention_b_c_you_supposedly_smell_like_something_
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___At__NCCU_s_law_school_where_I_graduated__incoming_1Ls_have_to_read_Harper_Lee_s__To_Kill_a_Mockingbird__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Our_Orientation_t-shirts_have_a_quote_from_the_book___You_never_really_understand_a_person_until_you_consider_things_from_his_point_of_view__
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T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___Vital_advice_for_attorneys__esp_in_the_crim_defense_context__And_life_IMO__Do_that_w__this_student__Imagine_you_re_her_in_that_situation__
T__Greg_Doucette_on_Twitter___And_after_you_ve_done_that__if_any_of_you__don_t__care__unfollow_me_😉_
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Mic: Dropped.

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