Lawmakers Stop Maryland Police to Search People for Smelling Pot

As of July 1, thanks to the overwhelming majority of Maryland voters to be approved Last November, state law will to allow adults 21 or older to possess marijuana in public for up to 1.5 hours. In anticipation of this development, Maryland lawmakers last month passed HB 1071, which will prevent police officers, effective July 1, from taking the smell of marijuana as sufficient grounds to stop or search pedestrians or vehicles.

Virginia established a similar law in 2020, and parliamentarians in other countries, including Missouri and Illinois, have proposed a similar reformulation. The idea behind it is straightforward: When it becomes legal to possess a small amount of cannabis, the smell that indicates the presence of the substance will no longer be evidence of a crime. Reason cannot, by itself, provide reasonable suspicion for a stop or probable cause to investigate. However, the Maryland bill, which the Democrat-controlled legislature passed by a vote of 101-36 in the House and 27-20 in the Senate, recently. it became a law without the signature of Gov. Wes Moore, which suggests he had his doubts about it.

Moore, a Democrat who took office this year, was sent on board of Chicago cannabis company Green Thumb Industries until March 2022 and unsurprisingly. to be helped officially established when he ran for governor. He he refuses to explain his reasons for refusing to sign HB 1071, which in addition to search and seizure would reduce the maximum fine for smokers from $250 to $50. But the legislative debate over the bill is a window into the dangerous police practice of using marijuana as a pretext for investigating other crimes and as a reason to seize property.

Under HB 1071, “a police officer may not stop or search a person, vehicle, or stationary vessel” for the “smell of burned or unburned cannabis,” those suspected of being in possession of money to be used, or “the presence of cash or money near marijuana without an indication of intent.” distribution.” Finally, the police seized the money along with the marijuana, and used it increase their budgets under the extortion laws, which helps explain Why do the police want to follow their noses?

If an officer is searching a person suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana, HB 1071 states, they can search parts of the vehicle that are “readily accessible” to the driver or “relevant to evidence” of a crime. Any evidence obtained in violation of the new laws “will not be admissible at trial, hearing, or other proceedings.” In particular, this includes “evidence obtained or obtained with consent,” which is more than legal fiction when people are blocked on the roads by the government’s tools and powers to punish idle drivers.

Under Maryland’s prior law, possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less was a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine. In 2017, the Maryland Supreme Court (now the Supreme Court of Maryland) however. it happened that “a police officer has reason to search a car” when he “smells marijuana coming from the car, because any marijuana is still illegal, although possession of less than ten grams is a crime.”

However, after three years the court he ruled that “the mere smell of marijuana does not indicate the amount of marijuana that may be in a person’s possession and does not provide a police officer with reasonable cause to arrest a person and conduct an illegal search of that person. arrest.” In 2022, on the contrary, the court he said “the smell of marijuana” he does providing “reasonable suspicion of sufficient criminality to warrant summary detention,” overturned the lower court. conflicting authority.

HB 1071 clearly clarifies this confusion over legal grounds: It says the smell of marijuana is not enough, by itself, to justify a warrantless search. or stop. Although the point of the amendment seems clear, opponents of the bill say that such a criminal law goes too far. Police want to continue to stop and search people for marijuana even if they are legally allowed to possess it.

The Maryland Chiefs of Police Association and the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association he realized that certain marijuana-related practices would be illegal in Maryland, including possession by people under 21, possession of more than 1.5 ounces, driving while intoxicated, and distribution without a license. Since the smell of the pot still he can being evidence of a crime, they said, “using the smell of marijuana alone as grounds for a summary arrest or a search of a vehicle does not violate the Fourth Amendment and may be reasonable.”

The police agencies mentioned December 2022 report while Brian Frosh, who was the attorney general of Maryland, said that “the smell of marijuana would allow an officer to briefly detain the person to investigate whether they have criminal cannabis.” Frosh also suggested that the Maryland Supreme Court would likely hold that “the odor of marijuana emanating from a vehicle would warrant an officer’s search of the vehicle” even if the possession of a lesser substance was legally recognized.

“We know it may seem counterintuitive,” Frosh wrote. But “to search a vehicle under the Constitution, an officer needs reasonable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime, not that the person in the vehicle has committed or committed a crime.”

You would think that when a police officer pulls someone over, smells marijuana, and searches the car, they think the driver is at fault. But according to Frosh, the officer only thinks he’s found “evidence of a crime,” not a crime the driver (or passenger) has committed. If so, who exactly is the suspect?

In any case, for a possible reason they want “a good chance that fraud or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular location.” In this context, this possibility depends on the fact that marijuana in the car can exceed 1.5 hours. After legalization, what percentage of marijuana-carrying drivers can expect to have more than the legal limit? If the number is small, it is difficult to see how hunting can be justified without anything other than the availability of cannabis.

The Colorado Supreme Court rejected this in 2019, when it did he ruled that the “alert” of a drug dog trained to detect marijuana and other drugs does not provide a valid reason to search. Courts in other states where cannabis is legal have reached out common principlesforcing the police to retrain or change their illness. And in 2015, after Massachusetts outlawed marijuana possession but not legalized recreational use, the state’s Supreme Court upheld the decision. he ruled that the smell of burnt marijuana alone would not justify a traffic stop.

Instead of waiting to see where the Maryland Supreme Court would respond to these questions, state legislators chose policies that prevented the need for further litigation and sentencing. And in making that decision, he eliminated one of them many reasons which the police use to harass people who do not pose a threat to public safety.

This excuse can be stretched beyond belief. For example, in 2012, The Virginian-Pilot report that Chesapeake officials “have been pulling over cars because they smell marijuana as they walk down the street.” One of those cops he explained how the method is said to have worked: “We drive our patrol car open, we draw air from the outside, directly in the face.”

In 2011, New Jersey police to be locked up A BMW smelled of “a strong odor of uncooked marijuana” and was busted within three weeks with the help of drug-sniffing dogs, costing more than $12,000. They did not find marijuana that they said smelled or anything else illegal.

Two years later, after getting into the car for conflicting reasons, an Idaho state trooper opened the trunk with the driver’s involuntary consent and, according to the results. a case, “said he smelled marijuana,” even though “it was stormy and rainy that day.” A subsequent search of the vehicle turned up nothing illegal. Driver’s lawyer he said The Denver Post his client “doesn’t use marijuana and never did.”

In 2018, the Kansas Supreme Court to be held warrantless search based on an officer’s statement that he “smelled raw marijuana coming from the house” while standing outside the front door. What the police found was 25 grams (less than an ounce) of marijuana that was inside a closed plastic container, inside a locked safe, inside a bedroom that was 30 meters away from where the officer was standing. The officers also found “a small amount of marijuana on a slightly burnt cigarette in the living room,” which could be smelled. to be burned marijuana, not “raw marijuana.”

That same year, the Louisville, Kentucky, SWAT team fear an innocent family during a fruitless home invasion. The raid was based on a “strong smell of marijuana” that a police officer said he noticed while standing on the front porch.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The police, with the help of theirs very unreliable dogsthey often use the real or imagined smell of marijuana to justify violent attacks, including useless hunts, Freeway and the airport robbery, and roadside being raped. The smell of pot was also identified in the 2016 death of Minnesota motorist Philando Castile, who was shot by a police officer who later reported the smell. they scared him.

It’s too bad that such things happen in places where marijuana is illegal. It is incomprehensible that they will continue after the government lifted the ban.

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