Maryland Lawmakers Cross Invoice Barring Weed Odor As Possible Trigger For Searches


The Maryland Home of Delegates handed a invoice on April 10 that bars police from utilizing the odor of hashish as the idea for the search of an individual or vehicle. The measure, Home Invoice 1071, additionally lowers the civil fantastic for consuming hashish in public to $50. 

The invoice was authorized by the Maryland Home by a vote of 101-36 within the closing minutes of the legislative session Monday evening after passing within the state Senate with amendments earlier within the day. The laws now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Wes Moore for consideration.

Invoice Bans Searches Based mostly on Odor of Weed

Below House Bill 1071, regulation enforcement officers can be prohibited from utilizing the odor of uncooked or burnt hashish as possible trigger to go looking an individual or automobile. Supporters of the laws preserve that the invoice is required to satisfy the intent of Query 4, a poll referendum to legalize leisure marijuana that handed with practically two-thirds of the vote within the midterm elections final yr. Home Invoice 1071 additionally bans searches based mostly on possession of a authorized quantity of marijuana or the presence of money within the proximity of hashish with out further proof exhibiting an intent to distribute marijuana.

Query 4, which takes impact on July 1, legalizes possession of as much as 12 grams of hashish for private use. Possession of between 12 and 20 grams can be a civil offense, punishable by a fantastic of as much as $250. Possession of hashish in portions higher than 20 grams can be a misdemeanor carrying penalties together with as much as six months in jail and a fantastic of as much as $1,000.

As a result of possession of hashish will nonetheless be unlawful in quantities higher than 12 grams, legalization advocates say Home Invoice 1071 is important to guard the rights of authorized hashish customers. The laws follows a court docket choice from the Maryland Supreme Court docket final yr that upheld police authority to briefly detain and search people based mostly on the odor of hashish, regardless of the state’s legalization of medical marijuana in 2013. Assistant Maryland Public Defender Michele Corridor, who unsuccessfully argued the Supreme Court docket case, advised the Home Judiciary Committee final month that police will proceed to conduct searches based mostly solely on the perceived odor of hashish.

“Legalization alone didn’t repair this drawback,” Corridor advised the Home Judiciary Committee final month, according to a report from the Maryland Every day File.

“So long as odor helps Fourth Modification intrusion, Marylanders legally participating within the hashish market are in danger,” added Corridor. “Alleging odor of hashish alone is nothing greater than a clean verify for police to intrude upon an individual’s proper to privateness within the hopes of discovering one thing felony, and the Fourth Modification requires extra.”

The laws to ban police from utilizing the odor of marijuana as possible trigger for a search can also be supported by the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Marijuana odor stops and searches not solely pose severe danger to folks’s Fourth Modification rights, they allow racial profiling and harmful and pointless police interactions,” Yanet Amanuel, the chapter’s public coverage director, advised the Judiciary Committee in March.

“That is why it’s crucial that the legislature should step up and make sure that the regulation and police practices are per the rationale you all mentioned you help legalization of marijuana and, most significantly, the regulation displays the desire of the folks,” Amanuel added. “Marylanders mustn’t concern police interactions due to a lingering odor of a now authorized substance.”

Meg Nash, a associate on the hashish and psychedelics regulation agency Vicente LLP, mentioned that laws resembling Home Invoice 1071 is required to make sure that the legalization of hashish is enforced equally.

“It’s encouraging to see Maryland tackling the dangerous impacts of the conflict on medication, not solely by grownup use legalization, however by revisiting sections of their felony code,” Nash wrote in an electronic mail to Excessive Instances on Wednesday. “A lot of these legal guidelines are essential to guard the rights of people in states, like Maryland, which have legalized hashish for grownup use and present the state’s dedication to addressing harms to communities which were disproportionately impacted by prohibition.”

Home Invoice 1071 additionally reduces the fantastic for public consumption of hashish from $250 to $50. After receiving remaining passage within the closing minutes of the present legislative session Monday evening, the invoice has been despatched to the governor’s desk for consideration.

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