Law enforcement officers in Maryland and other states are sometimes able to legally search a vehicle if they smell the odor of marijuana. These searches sometimes uncover illegal substances within the vehicle, but they also can be very inconvenient for a driver who knows there are no illegal substances in the car. Vehicle searches can be time-consuming, and many drivers feel embarrassed to have their vehicles searched by police. Maryland has recently decided to change the laws surrounding searches based solely on the odor of marijuana.
A change in the law
A new Maryland law, House Bill 1071, just passed on the last day of the legislative session. The bill prohibits police officers from searching a vehicle just because they smell marijuana. Critics of the bill believe that it may lead to more drugs and illegal firearms on the streets because the police will be limited in their abilities to search vehicles that they believe may contain illegal substances.
The new law will take effect on July 1, which is the same day that the state will begin to allow the use of recreational marijuana. Those who proposed the bill believe it may help reduce vehicle searches based on discriminatory factors. Police officers will still be able to search vehicles based on other circumstances in accordance with the laws in the state.
Legal help after a drug charge
When one is charged with drug possession, it may seem like an uphill battle. Not only would a conviction lead to possible jail time but it can also affect one’s personal and professional life. Maryland residents who are facing drug-related charges can benefit from seeking legal counsel to help with their defense strategy.