End Police Stops and Searches Based on Alleged Smell of Marijuana

Act Now

The police stopping and searching you based on something that cannot be categorically proven – the smell of marijuana – is outdated. It is routinely used to infringe on individuals’ right to privacy, which allows the police to justify racial profiling. In Maryland, police stop Black drivers more frequently than any other race, and probable cause to search is used to justify 60 percent of searches. This is unacceptable.

Demand that legislators pass legislation to reduce unnecessary police interactions and adequately end the criminalization of marijuana as we move towards legalization. Further, demand that this legislation include the exclusionary rule for illegally obtained evidence so that police are deterred from conducting unlawful stops and searches based on the odor of marijuana.

Let’s ensure that police cannot use the smell of now legal marijuana to conduct an investigatory stop or perform a warrantless search of your vehicle. Tell your legislators to vote “Yes” on SB 51 and HB 1071.

Message recipients:
Maryland State Senators

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Dear legislator,

We’ve seen the disastrous effects the war on marijuana had on Black communities. Together, we can remedy this wrong. A great first step was legalizing marijuana. However, as your constituent, I believe SB 51 / HB 1701 is urgently needed to ban police from stopping and searching Marylanders solely based on the alleged smell of marijuana on a person or a vehicle. Marylanders should not fear police interactions because of the lingering odor of a now-legal substance.

The current legal standards are outdated, ripe for abuse and discriminatory enforcement, and do not reflect the will of the people when we legalized marijuana in November 2022. We know that police in Maryland disproportionately stop Black people at higher rates than any other race. Allowing police officers to continue stopping individuals or searching their cars based on the smell of marijuana alone will further entrench and expand this disproportionately and create a two-tiered system of justice when it comes to marijuana.

This is also why I believe an explicit exclusionary rule is important to include in SB 51/ HB 1071. It is the only mechanism that will deter police from violating the law and obtaining evidence as the result of an illegal search. Maryland Courts have said, and affirmed, that unless the exclusionary rule is explicitly stated in legislation, it does not automatically apply. In order to adequately protect the Fourth Amendment rights of Black Marylanders this bill must explicitly state the exclusionary rule.

Furthermore, I do not want my privacy rights to be infringed upon, nor the rights of my neighbors, based upon now legal cannabis. Put an end to this.

It’s unacceptable that police can stop a person and search a car based on an alleged smell, where the claim could be driven by racial bias. Move all of our communities towards the current times by voting “Yes” on SB 51 / HB 1701.


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