Have you ever been stopped for the smell of marijuana?
Share your story here.
In the last election cycle, the majority of voters supported the legalization of recreational marijuana. But even with mass approval, citizens are still subjected to unnecessary interactions with law enforcement based on the smell of marijuana.
The ACLU is working to ban marijuana odor stops and needs your help.
Though the Fourth Amendment prohibits unlawful searches and seizures, exceptions warrant probable cause that law enforcement can abuse and manipulate — especially surrounding the alleged smell of marijuana. Studies have shown a correlation between the alleged smell of marijuana, unauthorized searches and racial profiling. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, Maryland police are two times more likely to search Black drivers and their vehicles during traffic stops than white drivers. Probable cause was used to justify 67% of searches of black drivers while only 46.1% for white drivers. In Maryland, the pendulum swing of rulings have caused disparity and confusion.
In 2020, Maryland courts determined odor does not suggest probable cause due to the unknown quantity of marijuana and, therefore, it is a law enforcement error in assuming a criminal act is taking place. However, the Court of Appeals recently ruled that, while the odor of marijuana does not provide probable cause for a search and arrest, it does provide reasonable suspicion that the person may have 10 grams or more and justifies a stop by law enforcement – a contradiction to its ruling a year prior.
The ACLU is committed to holding the legislature accountable in maintaining the state’s consistency that protects Maryland citizens.
Stopping citizens on the basis of marijuana odors clogs the justice system with frivolous cases and is a misuse of police time and resources.
Want to do more? End police stops and searches based on marijuana odor by emailing your legislators here.