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University of Baltimore Law Forum

Abstract

The Court of Appeals of Maryland held that decriminalization does not equate to legalization of marijuana; therefore, a law enforcement officer has probable cause to search a vehicle if the officer detects the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Robinson v. State, 451 Md. 94, 99, 152 A.3d 661, 664-65 (2017). The court explained that the odor of marijuana establishes probable cause to believe the vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime. Id. at 99, 152 A.3d at 665. Thus, there was probable cause to search the vehicles in each of the combined cases. Id. at 137, 152 A.3d at 687.

The Court of Appeals of Maryland consolidated three cases in which police officers smelled marijuana emanating from a vehicle. In the first case, Jermaul Rondell Robinson ("Robinson") was leaning against a vehicle in Baltimore when two police officers approached him after noticing a strong odor of marijuana. The officers searched Robinson's vehicle and seized sixteen small bags of marijuana. Similarly, in the second case, Dexter Williams ("Williams") was sitting in a vehicle in Baltimore when a police officer walked towards him and smelled marijuana emanating from his car. The officer searched Williams' car and seized a backpack, which contained a scale and 170 grams of marijuana.

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