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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: July 18, 2011
Medical marijuana and stethoscope - Leckerman Law, LLC

Although New Jersey and fifteen other states have passed medical marijuana laws, this will not keep you safe from the issues of smoking marijuana and a possible DWI charge. Here’s what you need to know about how the 2 situations can collide to cause you legal problems:

It’s probably obvious that you shouldn’t drink alcohol and drive, because if you’re pulled over and the police determine you’re intoxicated, then you will be arrested for DWI. The same goes for smoking marijuana. If you are smoking marijuana or have recently smoked and are pulled over while you’re high (impaired), then you will also be arrested for DWI in New Jersey.

What about when you have a medical marijuana certification card and you smoke occasionally? Let’s also assume that you smoked marijuana three nights ago, and today you’re driving to work. While driving, a police officer stops you for a minor vehicle code infraction. During the traffic stop, the officer either sees the medical marijuana card in your wallet, it comes up in conversation by him asking if you’ve had any drinks or smoked any drugs, or perhaps the officer notices a pipe or a small amount of marijuana in your car. The officer may ask that you complete field sobriety tests. If the officer believes that you have failed those tests and are under the influence of marijuana, then will be arrested for DWI. Ultimately, blood or urine may be drawn to determine if you have marijuana in your system.

Notwithstanding legal challenges that should be filed concerning the arrest and blood or urine analysis, the State laboratory may assert that the results indicate a derivative of marijuana was discovered. This derivative or “metabolite” is the byproduct of your body metabolizing the psychoactive chemical component of marijuana called “THC”. Even though the presence of a marijuana metabolite does not scientifically indicate marijuana was consumed recently, the prosecutor may still decide to proceed with prosecution.

At that point, you should certainly consider hiring an attorney who is well-trained in analyzing and challenging these blood or urine results and the police officer’s incorrect assumptions. Moreover, it is essential to retain the services of a pharmacologist or toxicologist to assist the attorney and act as an expert witness to challenge the drug results.

It unfortunately doesn’t matter that the state of New Jersey says you’re allowed to smoke cannabis or carry a small amount with you. You can still be charged with a DWI.

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