Legalization of marijuana and the effect on the New Jersey criminal and driving public.
With the changing of administrations in New Jersey, one of the greatest anticipated public policy changes will be the legalization of marijuana.
Submitted by New Jersey DWI Defense Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
Numerous state representatives and senators have been pushing for the legalization of marijuana, both Republican and Democratic, for the last eight years without any success. Our new governor‘s intention to legalize marijuana is highly anticipated because it create a significant new revenue source from the taxation of marijuana sales. In addition, many republican legislators, who support smaller government, believe the ‘war on drugs’ has been an economic failure resulting in swollen police forces, swollen jails, and too many people with criminal record as a result of small possessory offenses of marijuana. Nevertheless, law enforcement also believe there will be a significant increase in DWI/DUI offenses related to marijuana intoxication or marijuana ingestion by way of smoking or edible.
As a result, there is a significant debate brewing in the legislature and the law enforcement community in New Jersey concerning how to legislate DWI/DUI offenses given legal possession and illegal use of marijuana.
Several states currently employee a strict liability regime which mandates conviction for toxicology producing results reflecting a certain amount of THC in the bloodstream or body. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of marijuana substance in the body can be accomplished Says some through blood test, urine test, hair sample, or bucle swab from the inside of the mouth. However, there is absolutely no general consensus with regards to the method used and or the methodology employed to analyze and arrive at a level of impairment for someone who has recently smoked or ingested marijuana. The problem lies with the fact that marijuana is a drug that is stored in our body fat cells as a post to be blood or urine we produce. As a result, someone who smokes two or three days prior to a motor vehicle stop may have a similar or identical amount of THC chemical in a toxicology Analysis as someone who smoked a short time before they drove. So the question becomes what will the legislature due to establish a per se or strict liability redline that operators a motor vehicle cannot cross them.
The next potential issue will be the state ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is impaired through the testimony of a drug recognition expert, commonly identified as a DRE. There has been no scientific studies, let alone New Jersey or United States Supreme Court decision, that recognize the generally excepted scientific Prince of those concerning the methodology as proof of the drug recognition expert testimony. This will be another/additional area where the fence attorneys will make an effort to be successful in prohibiting such testimony from the trial court decision making process.
In the coming months we will continue to write blogs and articles addressing the numerous issues surrounding the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey.
For anyone reading these blogs please feel free to call my office to discuss any of these issues. If you have been charge with a DWI involving marijuana and impairment please contact our office immediately so we can assist with your defense.
Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.