Drug-Infused Legal Docs Lead to Jail Crackdown

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 06, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If your criminal defense attorney is also a cannabis attorney, better be careful about any legal papers you get.

At one Pennsylvania jail, officials discovered inmates were smoking drug-infused legal documents. Fifteen employees got sick from the fumes.

As a result, the jail now strip-searches inmates after meeting with their lawyers. That's right, grass can be a pain in the ...

Marijuana is legal in many states, jails not so much. But legalization has spawned all kinds of marijuana products, including THC-infused rolling papers. Users typically get really buzzed.

Smoking drug-infused pleading papers, however, will get you really busted in Allegheny County Jail. Officers started the new strip-search policy because they couldn't figure out how inmates were getting the contraband.

According to reports, they thought it was being smuggled in through lawyer-visits and general inmate mail. The warden declined to discuss details with local media.

It's a problem all around the jailhouse, though. A correctional officer reportedly was suspended in the crack-down, and the inmates and lawyers obviously don't like it either.


During strip searches, inmates remove all their clothing while officers probe their intimate body parts. Lawyers are not subjected to the invasive process, but they must alert jail officials if they have legal materials with them.

The Pittsburg Post-Gazettte said the protocol includes "looking for paper with stains, paper that looks like it was wet and has dried, and paper that smells like perfume or cotton candy." Apparently love letters are as suspicious as legal letters.

In the meantime, criminal defense and civil rights lawyers are weighing options. Angus Love, executive director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, says blanket strip searches are illegal without reasonable suspicion.

"You have to have something to go on," he said. "Doing it after an attorney visit is sort of in between. It's a gray area."

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