Smell of marijuana doesn’t justify traffic stops, rules Md. appeals court – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-05-04 08:28:17 –

The slight smell of marijuana no longer legally justifies Maryland police officers stopping and searching for someone, according to a new Court of Appeals ruling.

According to a new Maryland Court of Appeals decision, just smelling marijuana does not justify stopping and investigating anyone.

In a ruling released last week, the Maryland Court of Appeals needed “reasonable suspicion” that police were committing a crime to stop and cross-examine someone, just sniffing weeds. He said he did not meet that standard.

Historically, the smell of marijuana provided police with the opportunity to detain, search, and interrogate people, sometimes discovering contraband and more serious crimes.

Possession of marijuana remains illegal in Maryland, but in 2004 the state decriminalized less than 10 grams of marijuana.

The distinction changed the way police used marijuana scents to suspend investigations, Judge Catherine Grill Gref wrote in her opinion.

“Because possession of marijuana less than 10 grams is no longer a crime, the suspicion needed to support the suspension of the crime of possession of marijuana is therefore that the person has more than 10 grams of marijuana. And, “because the smell of marijuana alone does not indicate the amount of marijuana someone owns.” [citing a previous case]In itself, it cannot give reasonable suspicion that the person possesses a criminal amount of marijuana or is otherwise involved in criminal activity, “Graeff writes.

The ruling overturns the case in Prince George’s County, where a boy was stroked and a pistol was recovered from the waistband, based solely on police declarations that it smelled of marijuana.

A 2019 Court of Appeals ruling ruled that police could not arrest anyone based on the smell of marijuana.

A spokesman for Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh declined to comment and did not say whether the state would appeal the decision.

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