On March 9, 2023, the Maryland Coalition for Justice & Police Accountability (MCJPA) gathered before a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on HB 1071/SB 51, to end police stops and searches based on the alleged smell of marijuana. This legislation is necessary to stop racial profiling by police and to address racial injustice now that marijuana is being legalized in Maryland.
Take action to tell legislators to end police stops and searches based on the alleged smell of marijuana.
Nehemiah Bester edited this video.
Yanet Amanuel: We're all here gathered today in support of HB 1071 and SB 51, which is to discontinue a tool police have been using to justify racially profiling people - the odor or the alleged odor of marijuana.
Dajuan: Then he asked me, what am I even doing in Towson as if I didn't belong. So as you can see, they use these so-called laws and policies to wiggle their way in and target us Black and Brown and minority people. And we shall overcome.
Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield: We are saying a contraband is legalized, then that means that you should not be stopped because you smell like it. You should not be stopped for any reason whatsoever. Cause you are walking down the street because you're in a car, whatever. And again, I go back to my own son and I just think about the fact that that could happen to him.
Michelle Hall: Not only is it unreasonable for an officer to be able to stop you on the street or search every inch of your vehicle based on the odor of a legal odor of cannabis. But oftentimes it becomes clear that officers are lying. They are constantly lying about smelling any weed at all and are only making that allegation in a police report or to another officer on body camera to have a legal cover for an intrusion that would otherwise be illegal.
Dayvon Love: Law enforcement has produced no evidence that this is an effective public safety strategy, and we demand that those who are opposing this legislation on those grounds present that evidence. We know no such evidence exist, but it is important for us to know that when we think about the impact of racism and white supremacy, it is that a belief that has no basis in fact is driving the policies that govern how law enforcement is interacting with our community and the policies they support.
Delegate Debra Davis: Marylanders voted overwhelmingly for the legalization of cannabis. It wasn't because it was going to make the state billions of dollars. It was because we were tired, sick and tired and sick and tired of being sick and tired of having our young people arrested and stopped and searched because of marijuana.
Martin Mitchell: Why are we punishing people for now a legal substance? I mean, I can argue that it should have always been legal and we are pushing at extreme speeds to make sure that this adult use market opens, right? So how about we push for the same speeds for criminal justice reform, for reparative justice, and, you know, with that being said pass SB 1071 and SB 51 today.
Carl Snowden: That the Maryland that we want is not the Maryland of the past. We want a Maryland where people, children, young people, will have an opportunity to walk in the street and stay in the streets in Maryland and not be harassed based on the color of their skin. When the officer pulled me over in Towson he said that my headlight was out. That led to it smells like marijuana.
Dawn Dalton: It's time for us to do better. It's time for us to be better. It's time for us to get this law passed so that our young people can feel safe just like their young people feel safe.