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In re DD (Maryland Court of Special Appeals, April 28, 2021): The second highest court in Maryland ruled that police officers cannot make stops based solely on the smell of marijuana. The Maryland Court of Appeals held that the trial court improperly denied the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence based on an illegal stop. To stop someone, police must have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed. “Reasonable suspicion” requires some minimal level of justification. It is a far lower standard than probable cause. In 2014, the Maryland General Assembly decriminalized the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. Since then, the courts have wrestled with the effect of decriminalization on searches and seizures. Because possessing under 10 grams of marijuana in is no longer a criminal offense, an officer must suspect that a person possesses more than 10 grams to justify a stop. Since odor alone does not indicate quantity, it cannot provide reasonable suspicion to support a stop and is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Read the full decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – May 14, 2021.

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