New Jersey is one state that has recently reevaluated its marijuana laws by decriminalizing certain amounts of cannabis even for recreational use. The state had enacted legislation allowing the use of medical marijuana several years ago. With the new legislation, both recreational and medical marijuana possession are allowable in the state, but there are restrictions on possession amounts. Those who are prescribed cannabis by a doctor may have up to 3 ounces in possession while those who use it recreational are allowed 1 ounce. And the new law goes even further in detail regarding police confiscation authority.
Highway patrol officers in the past have been allowed to use the smell of marijuana as as the basis for a reasonable suspicion to search a vehicle following a traffic stop. This is was actually a primary precursor to many drug charges issued. The new legislation specifically states that smell is no longer grounds for a reasonable suspicion to search. Officers are to assume without further extenuating evidence that the driver is not transporting drugs in a trafficking operation in excess of allowable amounts.
Driving under the influence
One issue of criminal activity that the law does not change is driving under the influence of marijuana. This is still unlawful driving behavior without drug charges being filed, and officers can still request a driver who has obviously been recently smoking cannabis to submit to a field sobriety test. However, proving a DUI charge can be difficult due to the fact that there is no acceptable mechanical device or blood testing that can be used in prosecution such as with alcohol.
While it is true that medical marijuana users in New Jersey are no longer considered criminals according to the law as long as they comply with allowed possessed amounts, there are still situations where drug charges could be filed. Prosecutors will still be very serious about stopping organized trafficking activity involving cannabis regardless of medical authorization.