Drug suspect in "haze" and acting "groovy," court says

The Maryland Court of Appeals today upheld the conviction of a Baltimore man on a marijuana charge. Cops had burst into the house on a warrant and confronted four people sitting around a table, with a marijuana joint burning in the ash tray.

One of the men arrested, charged, convicted and sent to jail for 60 days appealed, arguing the police couldn't prove the marijuana belonged to him. The judges, with two dissents, thought otherwise and upheld the conviction on the grounds that his proximity to the drugs made it reasonable to infer that he "enjoyed them." (read the ruling).


Here's the opening of the opinion, one of the best I've seen recently:

"Reminiscent of a scene from a Cheech & Chong movie, Baltimore City police officers, on 6 December 2006, executed a search warrant on a dwelling at 1932 Lanvale Street where the occupants on one floor were found shrouded in a haze of marijuana smoke.

Despite the appearance of the police, Clavon Smith ("Petitioner"), one of those present,
behaved as though everything remained "groovy." Smith was seated in a chair at a table
within arm's reach of a smoldering marijuana blunt and next to another chair over which was
draped a jacket with fifteen baggies of marijuana in one of its pockets.

Although convicted of possession of marijuana in violation of Maryland Code (2002 & Supp. 2009), § 5-601(a)(1) of the Criminal Law Article, Petitioner claims that the State did not prove beyond
a reasonable doubt that he possessed any of the marijuana. We shall hold that the evidence
was sufficient as to the marijuana blunt to support his conviction for a single count of simple
possession of marijuana."

Now checkout the footnotes:

"For those not familiar with them, Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong (Cheech and Chong) are a comedy duo whose recreational drug ("stoner") humor became popular in the 1970s with the release of several comedy albums, and which led to a string of movies, beginning with "Up in Smoke" in 1978, that portrayed recreational drug use in nonthreatening situations. Although the team broke up in 1987, they reunited solidly in 2008 and continue to tour and make movies and television appearances to the present day.

"Blunt" is a popular term for a marijuana cigar. A police witness testified that to
create a blunt the smoker obtains a legitimate cigar, removes the tobacco, and substitutes
marijuana for the tobacco. The smoker then rolls the wrapper and the marijuana back into
the shape of a cigar and lights up.