On The Lookout: Questions Remain With Policing Decriminalized Po - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

On The Lookout: Questions Remain With Policing Decriminalized Pot

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WICOMICO CO., Md. - Picture a traffic stop with a car pulled over for speeding.

Marijuana is visible, but the amount unclear: is there nine or 11 grams? Does the officer make an eyeball judgment or break out a scale? Is the offender booked and brought to the station? 

These just some of the questions investigators at WBI have, weeks after a bill passed to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for Marylanders.

"We will all have to get training," said Sgt. David Owens. "Like so many other times when the law changes, there's still things that are quite worked out because we haven't lived that situation yet."

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) signed the bill this month that calls for a $100 fine for possession of 10 grams or less. That's for a first offense. Fines increase after that, but they're civil offenses.

More than 10 grams though and it's a crime. As is drug paraphernalia.

What's still hazy to investigators is if they'll have probable cause for a search on minimal amounts of the drug.

"If we're processing for the civil citation and we find cocaine, heroin, whatever, are we still okay or not?" asks Owens.

In the next two weeks, state's attorneys and officers across Maryland will meet in Annapolis, discussing how to handle the new normal of decriminalization.

Maryland is the 17th state to decriminalize marijuana. The way the law reads now can change over time as more is known and case laws are pushed through the courts determining what police can and cannot do.

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