Big cannabis news coming in on a Monday right as The Outlaw Report newsletter is wrapping up means we’ll have to unpack this more next week but we’d be remiss if we didn’t briefly mention that the smell of cannabis is no longer probable cause for police to search someone.
The case, Rasherd Lewis v. State of Maryland was argued on January 9 of this year with an opinion filed on July 27. In short, the opinion says that because cannabis possession of up to 10 grams has been decriminalized and is therefore neither a felony or a misdemeanor, the police officer would have to have probable cause to believe there is more cannabis in a car, home, or on a person and smell alone does not prove that.
Here is a summary of the opinion: “The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. For a warrantless arrest to be reasonable, there must be probable cause to believe that the arrestee committed a felony or was committing a felony or misdemeanor in the presence of a law enforcement officer. Possession of less than ten grams of marijuana is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor, but rather a civil offense. In order to lawfully arrest someone for possession of marijuana, the law enforcement officer must have probable cause to believe the arrestee possesses a criminal amount of marijuana, i.e., ten grams or more. A law enforcement officer cannot determine by the odor of marijuana alone the quantity of marijuana, if any, someone possesses. Therefore, the mere odor of marijuana does not create probable cause to believe an arrestee possesses a criminal amount of that substance.”
You can read the opinion in full here and The Outlaw Report will provide deeper analysis on the ruling next week.