Creating thresholds between civil and criminal marijuana quantities may not preclude marijuana probable cause searches
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Once Maryland made possession of under ten grams of marijuana but a civil offense a few years ago, criminal defense lawyers had a new weapon for challenging Maryland police searches for marijuana, by asserting that police and drug sniffing dogs cannot distinguish between the threshold over and below ten grams.
On March 31, 2016, Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals put the power of such an argument to rest, at least unless and until the state’s highest court rules on the matter. Reasoning that possession of any quantity of marijuana is unlawful, Bowling dismisses the above threshold argument. Bowling v. Maryland, ___ Md App. ___ (March 31, 2016). Bowling also discusses other state appellate courts that have reviewed this similar issue, pointing to a split among appellate courts in states that create thresholds between civil and criminal marijuana quantities.
In case Bowling gets reviewed by Maryland’s Court of Appeals, criminal defense lawyers will be prudent to continuing to make this threshold argument in Maryland cases, while acknowledging Bowling’s ruling.