State Senate President Steve Sweeney Says Marijuana Legislation Could Pass in September

New Jersey Recreational Marijuana

Here, at the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we have been following the marijuana legalization news closely, because it will likely have far reaching effects for New Jersey residents and drivers. In the past week, New Jersey Senate President, Steve Sweeney, released a statement hinting that recreational marijuana legalization could be passed by the end of the year, possibly as soon as next month.

Specifically, Senator Sweeney, who supports legalization, stated that he believes he has enough support in the Senate to pass the legislation if it were to come to a vote. Senator Sweeney noted that the same holds true for Assemblyman Speaker Craig Coughlin, regarding any vote on corresponding legislation in the New Jersey State Assembly.

Legislation on Recreational Marijuana

Although the specifics of any legislation have not yet been revealed, many state politicians have made their positions on recreational marijuana known. Accordingly, Senator Sweeney stated that he believes he and Assemblyman Coughlin can get the necessary votes to pass any measures in their chambers, 21 and 41 respectively, despite not having presented an official bill.

Senator Sweeney noted that he plans to couple recreational legalization with an expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program, in order to gain more supporters and votes in his favor. Recent expansions to medical marijuana in the State have received support by both Republicans and Democrats, so joining the two measures could force increased support.

There have also been discussions about how to treat individuals previously convicted of marijuana possession, and legislators are considering expunging past criminal records regarding possession.

Previous Efforts to Legalize Marijuana

Earlier this year, Governor Phil Murphy and state legislators passed a new state budget that omitted any mention of recreational marijuana. Nonetheless, Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Coughlin promised to revisit the issue later this summer. Moreover, Governor Murphy previously made it a goal of his Governorship to make recreational marijuana legal in New Jersey, and he already pushed through large expansions to the medical marijuana program, previously discussed on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog. Finally, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued an order and guidelines to all county and municipal governments to resolve possession of marijuana cases.

THC or Marijuana Intoxication and Driving

If a system is created for regulating and taxing marijuana sales, New Jersey drivers must still be aware that there are no plans to change how marijuana intoxication is treated by police officers on New Jersey state roads. Moreover, DWI and DUI convictions will not be included with any plan to forgive past criminal convictions for marijuana possession by expungement or removal from criminal records.

Therefore, regardless of what happens with recreational or medical marijuana, it will still be illegal to operate a motor vehicle while impaired due to marijuana or THC consumption, in the same way it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while drunk even though alcohol is legal. Because a conviction for driving under the influence is quasi-criminal, it also can never be expunged from a person’s driver’s history or driver’s abstract.

If you are convicted of DUI or DWI, it is possible to have a past conviction ignored for the purposes of sentencing if more than ten years has passed since the last conviction. However, your record will still show the past conviction, and this can affect your ability to apply for certain jobs or positions. If you’re convicted, that will likely be permanent, unless it is successfully appealed.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You Are Charged with Smoking Marijuana and Driving

Accordingly, if you or someone you know is pulled over and arrested or charged with intoxicated driving, you should contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Regardless of how the law changes in this area, a conviction for DUI or DWI will still have significant short and long-term consequences. A good lawyer may be able to have the charges against you dropped or dismissed completely. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.