Could I Be Arrested for a DWI in New Jersey While Using Medical Marijuana?
It’s been six years since medical marijuana became legal in New Jersey. Although the drug is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance under state law, the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act allows the growth, use, possession, and sale of marijuana legal under a strict set of medical guidelines. So what does this mean if you are pulled over for driving under the influence?
For example, you take medical marijuana for your Crohn’s disease. Before driving over to your friend’s house, you feel like a flare-up is about to happen so you smoke a joint. While on the ride over, you cross the double line which causes a police car to pull you over. You’re honest with the officer and tell him that you just used medical marijuana. Will you be arrested for DUI?
According to New Jersey law, the offense for a DWI means you are driving under the influence of a narcotic. However, there is nothing that states how much of that drug must be present in the body in order to break the law, besides alcohol. According to a 1975 New Jersey Supreme Court decision, as long as a “qualified expert” can determine that you’re “under the influence” of a drug based on your behavior, then that is sufficient evidence for an arrest.
But what about medical marijuana? This is still up for debate. Take, for instance, the case of a Colorado woman who was charged with DWI. The woman took medical marijuana for her chronic back pain. In 2014, police had pulled her over for an expired license tag and smelled marijuana in her car. After failing a sobriety test and a blood test, she was arrested for DWI. But when the case went to trial, the woman’s attorney was able to argue that the blood test cannot tell whether the woman was impaired since THC stays in the bloodstream for a longer amount of time than alcohol. The woman was acquitted.
This issue still something that many states are tackling as more and more states are legalizing the drug. In New Jersey, state legislatures have been trying to change the standards for DUI policies for some time but nothing has been pushed through the Legislature just yet. But as medical marijuana is legalized in more and more states, time will tell if the laws will be changed.
If you were arrested for a DWI, you’re going to need a good attorney by your side. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.