Yo, what’s up? The New Jersey government wants to keep tabs on all your weed-related activities, from possession to arrests, in an effort to crack down on stoned driving. Assemblywoman Shanique Speight is pushing for the creation of a division that will compile all this data for future reference. This includes arrests made for driving under the influence of cannabis, weed-related convictions or dismissals, cannabis seized by the cops, and adjudications of cannabis charges.
Now I know some of y’all might be thinking that driving while smoking a joint ain’t that dangerous. But some lawmakers are trying real hard to make it a thing. They’re conducting research using people who are high and even working on technology to scan your eyeballs in order to identify and prosecute anyone who’s driving under the influence of cannabis. These guys really want to solve this problem, even though there’s no actual evidence linking weed legalization in Canada to an increase in car crashes.
Speight got inspired after visiting Colorado, which was the first state to legalize recreational weed back in 2022. She realized that New Jersey didn’t have a similar centralized database where all the weed-related incidents could be logged and monitored. So she decided to create one, with the aim of helping police officers know when they can arrest someone for being high behind the wheel. This database will also be presented annually to the governor and Legislature, along with any recommendations for improvements.
The bill was introduced earlier this month by Sen. Vin Gopal and is now going through both chambers’ law and public safety committees. It also includes a “public awareness campaign” about cannabis and driving.
Recreational cannabis is legal in New Jersey for adults who are 21 and over. You can possess up to six ounces without getting arrested. If you get caught with more than that, you won’t get arrested either, but you’ll get a summons instead. Also, cops can’t search your car without a warrant just because they think they smell weed. And if they do investigate cannabis use for anyone under 21, they can be charged with deprivation of civil rights and face up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
But despite all these favorable laws for weed enthusiasts, Speight says that she’s “troubled” by incidents where New Jersey police don’t know what to do. She thinks that many officers take a more cautious approach to avoid getting in trouble due to the current laws. The proposed data collection-based division aims to tackle this issue. However, without a proper cannabis version of the breathalyzer, cops are still struggling to tell whether someone is driving high or not.
“I know this all gets complicated, but we can’t ignore it,” said Speight. She hopes to work with both cannabis advocates and law enforcement on the bill.
So there you have it, folks. The state of New Jersey wants to keep track of your weed-related activities. Stay safe and don’t smoke and drive!