The House of Delegates on Thursday gave preliminary approval to legislation that would bar police from detaining individuals simply because they smelled of marijuana.
If the bill is passed, it would no longer mean that marijuana’s odor alone gives police neither reasonable suspicion nor probable cause to suspect someone of criminal activity. The smell, however, could still be a factor in an officer’s reasonable suspicion during a traffic stop that a person was driving while impaired by marijuana. The legislation is House Bill 1071. It comes after Maryland voters approved the possession of a personal amount of the drug by individuals aged 21 and above in a referendum last November. Under the approved referendum and related law, which takes effect July 1, possession of between 12 and 20 grams of marijuana will be punishable by a $250 civil fine. Possession of more than 20 grams will be a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Currently, possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana is a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine unless the drug is being used for legal medicinal purposes.