Jelani Gibson, content lead for NJ Cannabis Insider, and a reporter for NJ.com and The Star-Ledger, talks about a recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision that puts new limits on how a controversial method used to determine if someone is driving while high can be used in court.
New Jersey Supreme Court
New Jersey’s Supreme Court has declared the testimony of drug recognition experts reliable enough to be used as evidence, though they limited its use over concerns about such experts’ processes.
Wednesday’s decision is a partial defeat for the state Office of the Public Defender, which argued the case, and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which was among several groups that filed supporting briefs. It comes three months after a court-appointed special master found such testimony was reliable enough to act as evidence.
The state Supreme Court said in a unanimous ruling Thursday that police officers improperly used the smell of marijuana to search a man’s car on the New Jersey Turnpike in 2016, a decision that allows the man to withdraw his guilty plea to a weapons offense.
NJ Supreme Court’s Decision in State v. Gomes
The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed. It held that “persons who received pre-CREAMMA conditional discharges for specified marijuana offenses — just like persons who had pre-CREAMMA convictions for those marijuana offenses — are no longer categorically precluded from future admission into PTI.” Going forward, prosecutors and reviewing courts must consider the merits of their PTI applications, without regard to the existence or circumstances of the earlier marijuana-related conditional discharges.
Matt Platkin will become the first state attorney general in more than a dozen years to argue a case before the New Jersey Supreme Court when he appears on Tuesday.
Platkin will present the state’s argument in two consolidated cases that will determine if a defendant with a “prior conditional discharge for a disorderly persons offense of marijuana possession eligible for the Pretrial Intervention program (PTI) if the prior offense was expunged.”
The New Jersey Supreme Court case that could decide how cannabis impairment is — or isn’t — measured by police is nearing a conclusion with multiple ramifications.
In question is the protocol and use of specially trained officers known as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), who perform marijuana sobriety tests. The case, State v. Olenowski, involves the state Office of the Public Defender challenging the scientific validity of how police officers detect drug impairment, including on drivers suspected to be under the influence of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
New Jersey courts have either dismissed or vacated an estimated 362,000 marijuana cases since July 1, according to data provided by the state Judiciary and reported by NJ.com.
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of medical cannabis patients Tuesday, voting unanimously that a construction company must pay for an injured employee’s medical cannabis bills.
The decision upheld an appellate ruling from last January that found an employer to be responsible for covering the monthly bill for medical marijuana used by a former employee to treat an injury suffered on the job in 2001.
A former Amazon warehouse worker who sued the company after allegedly being fired over his use of medical marijuana is better positioned to win the case following a procedural ruling by a federal judge on Thursday.
Last year, the ex-employee filed the suit, alleging that he was terminated after testing positive for THC and subsequently requesting a disability accommodation for his anxiety disorder to allow him to use cannabis in accordance with state law. And last week, he scored a small but significant procedural victory.
This case has broad implications for the medical cannabis patient community, which is currently numbered at 71,492, many of whom are employed.