Having a green tongue is not enough reasonable suspicion for a law enforcement officer to suspect drug activity, according to a verdict handed down earlier this week by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
The case involves 18-year-old Hillman Blesdell-Moore, who was pulled over by police in 2011 for a busted taillight and then engaged in a unique level of roadside bullying tactics that we had never heard of until now.
Court reports indicate that during a routine traffic stop, Officer Roy Holland asked to see Blesdell-Moore’s tongue and then used its green color as reasonable grounds for initiating a full-blown drug investigation. Holland testified before the state’s high court that although Blesdell-Moore did not appear to be impaired and was not driving poorly prior to being pulled over, he was suspicious of the suspect’s nervous behavior and bloodshot eyes… that is when he asked to see the man’s tongue.
Throughout the course of the traffic stop, Blesdell-Moore maintained that he did not have any drugs in the vehicle. And despite the fact that Holland did not detect the odor of marijuana or see any evidence to suggest drugs were in the vehicle, he persistently harassed the man about what a drug-sniffing dog would find if one was turned loose.
Holland eventually told Blesdell-Moore and his father, who was on the phone assuring the officer that the broken taillight would soon be fixed, that he was free to return home. But just as the man was about to leave, the officer changed his mind and radioed in a canine unit. That is when Blesdell-Moore confessed to being in possession of a couple ounces of marijuana and psilocybin mushroom, which led to his arrest.
However, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Blesdell-Moore’s drug conviction was to be reversed because the arresting officer did not have substantial enough evidence to transform a routine traffic stop into a search for drugs -- deeming his actions unconstitutional.
"Although the brief inspection of the defendant's tongue did not prolong the stop, we conclude that the search altered the fundamental nature of the stop by transforming it from a routine traffic stop into an investigation of potential drug activity," according to the court’s ruling.
Overall, the justices were not pleased by the officer’s underhanded police work. "Holland was determined to conduct a drug investigation unsupported by reasonable suspicion," said the magistrates. "This is especially troubling in light of the defendant's youth and Holland's statement to (his) father that he would be releasing the defendant to return home."
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.