Government marijuana laws and policies have changed drastically in recent years, from decriminalization to legalization and everything in between. In Maryland, the most recent victory for anti-drug war activists is the state’s highest court ruling that the marijuana odor is not considered a possible reason to allow a police search.
Mary Jane in Maryland
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable arrest and confiscation by law enforcement agencies through residence Judgment of probable cause. This places restrictions on when and where an officer can arrest or search a citizen without a warrant or mitigating circumstances.
Until recently, law enforcement was able to use the smell of marijuana to justify searching a person suspected of possessing the substance. Maryland decriminalized possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis in 2014, and passed legislation in 2012 to create the medical marijuana program that began operations in 2017.
Since medical use and possession of small amounts of cannabis are not criminal offenses in Maryland, state court has now decided that odor alone is not a potential reason for research because not all marijuana use is illegal in the state.
The court stated, “A law enforcement officer cannot determine by the scent of marijuana alone the amount of marijuana, if any, that a person possesses. Therefore, the mere smell of marijuana does not create probable cause to believe that the detainee possesses a criminal amount of that substance.”
However, the ruling applies only to pedestrians and not to vehicle searches. While some Marylanders see this as a small step in the right direction, others say that frustratingly complex and fragmented cannabis policies are Partly as a result of the state not legalizing Marijuana in full.
The shifting stream of legalization
While marijuana is still illegal under federal rule Controlled Substances ActMany individual states have reformed their cannabis laws. As of 2020, 11 states have legalized recreational marijuana for those 21 and over. Entertainment legalization began in 2012 with Washington and Colorado.
A total of 33 statesIn addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, they have legalized medical marijuana. This means that eligible, certified adults can purchase marijuana products from state-licensed dispensaries.
Maryland is one of these states. Although there is no current robust legislation pushing recreational legalization in that state, several other states appear poised to legalize cannabis in the near future: Smart and Safe Law in Arizona also aims to legalize cannabis and has garnered increasing support over the few years. The past years, and although New York’s initiatives will likely not continue this year, Governor Cuomo has indicated a possible push for legalization in 2021.
Is the tide heading towards legalization across the country? It’s too early to say so, but there is a noticeable increase in the number of states relaxing cannabis regulation every year, particularly as discussions about racial discrimination continue in marijuana prosecutions – and as states realize the revenue they can raise by taxing legal cannabis.