New Jersey law now allows recreation use of marijuana under the state’s Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization (CREAMM) Act. This law allows those who are over the age of 21 to buy up to 1 once of usable cannabis. This includes various edibles like soft chews as well as topicals and vape formulas.
As with any big change to the law, questions about its implementation remain. Some of the more common include the following.
#1: Can an officer stop me on the street if they smell marijuana?
The CREAMM Act makes it clear that the smell of marijuana on its own is not enough to provide reasonable suspicion to justify an officer stopping a pedestrian.
#2: What if an officer suspects that an individual who has marijuana is under the age of 21?
As noted above, the smell of marijuana alone is not enough to justify a stop. Neither is the presence of marijuana in plain view. The rules are very complicated for when an officer can stop and search someone who they believe is too young to legally use marijuana. As such, anyone who faces these allegations is wise to have legal counsel review the charges to see if the officer failed to follow the law and did not have reasonable and articulable suspicion of illegal marijuana use to justify the stop. If they did not, the person accused of a crime could build a case to get the court to dismiss the charges.
#3: What if I use marijuana then drive my car?
It is illegal to drive in New Jersey while high. This can lead to Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated (DUI/DWI) charges. If an officer has a reason to stop a car and upon approaching that vehicle smells marijuana, they still need probable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence. If the officer can meet this requirement, they can arrest the driver and search the vehicle.
However, the smell of marijuana alone is generally not enough to provide reasonable suspicion to justify an extended stop.