Being Caught with Marijuana is No Joke, Especially if a Drug DUI Charge is Involved

There’s no mistaking the fact that whatever you call it, weed, cannabis, hash or whatever, marijuana is clearly the most common illegal substance in use here in the Garden State. This drug is very often the cause of many arrests in cities such as Newark, Jersey City and Patterson and the subject of illegal drug charges defended by many criminal defense attorneys. Oddly, marijuana is also becoming legalized as a medicinal drug in many portions of the U.S. Nevertheless, recreational use is not legal and can get people in serious trouble with the law.

As one of the most common drugs of choice, with billions of dollars of the plant being grown in nearly every corner of the country, marijuana can get one arrested even if you aren’t smoking it. If a police officer pulls a driver over after observing a traffic offense, even a minor one, the opportunity exists for that patrolman to question the driver and other occupants of the vehicle. Here in the Garden State, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while in possession of marijuana, not to mention being impaired as a result of smoking or otherwise ingesting the drug.

As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense lawyers, our legal team has more than four decades of experience defending motorists against various types of charges including possession and distribution. In fact, there are numerous potential offenses involving weed and its possession, sale and use. These include: manufacturing and distribution, possession, use or sale in a school zone, possession of drug paraphernalia, operation of a marijuana grow house, possession in a passenger car or other motor vehicle, and others.

I and my colleagues have personally handled hundreds of marijuana cases here in New Jersey. One reason is because we know that not every arrest made for a marijuana-related offense results in a conviction. There are many reasons for individuals being taken into custody by police officers, but occasionally these arrests are not well founded. We recently ran across a news article that showed how an over-zealous police force can place innocent people under arrest for no good reason.

According to the news story in question, a man in Canada was taken into police headquarters following an apparent raid that turned up what officers in charge believed to be a large volume of marijuana plants. Based on reports, the individual was relieved to find out later that charges stemming from marijuana manufacturing and possession had been dropped due to an incorrect assumption on the part of police.

Oddly, it didn’t take long after police seized more than 1,500 plants that were growing in the man’s backyard in Lethbridge, Canada, that it was determined those illegal pot plants were actually common flowers, more specifically Montauk daisies. Despite telling police over and over that the plants were simply garden flowers — shrubby perennials that the man had been cultivating for 10 years — police still arrested the man and charged him with operating the area’s largest marijuana grow facility in Lethbridge history.

Eventually the confusion was sorted out and police dropped the manufacturing and trafficking charges, however the four of the original five charges against the 41-year-old local resident remained. Those included possession of a controlled substance and possession for trafficking. The police weren’t completely caught off guard, since they uncovered cash from an alleged sale of almost 700grams of cannabis and well as a few grams of dried marijuana and some residue.

When it comes to drug offenses, an experienced criminal defense attorney is usually the best person to see to get answers. We know that every marijuana-related court case is fact-sensitive. Some of the more important questions that must be answered prior to planning a defense include:

— Was there probable cause?
— Was the search of your person, home or car properly executed?
— Can the state prove possession or control of the marijuana?
— Is there sufficient evidence to establish distribution?
— Did police follow the proper steps required for the chain of custody?

Oopsy daisy, LethbridgeHerald.com, October 2, 2012