Maryland Court Rules Pot Smell Not Enough for Police to Search Person
Bob Dylan wrote his indelible classic “The Times They Are a-Changin’” at a moment of enormous political and cultural upheaval in the country. Nearly 60 years later, the lyrics have been invoked—in a court of law, no less—to capture the winds of change in marijuana policy.
The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled 7-0 this week that the smell of pot alone is not sufficient grounds to search an individual. The court cited the state’s five-year-old law that decriminalized marijuana possession for 10 grams or less. And it also cited the king of folk. At the very top of the opinion, Maryland’s highest court placed the iconic lyrics from the song, which Dylan released in 1965 as an anthem for the Civil Rights era.
The case dealt with the arrest of Michael Pacheco, a 26-year-old who was approached by a pair of Montgomery County, Maryland police officers in his parked vehicle in May of 2016. The officers testified that they smelled freshly burnt marijuana emanating from the vehicle and that they could see a joint in the center console. After ordering Pacheco out of the vehicle, the officers searched and found cocaine in one of his front pockets.
Pacheco and his