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Motor Vehicle Stops In NJ Now That Pot Is Legal

With the new laws signed in February 2021 regarding marijuana possession in New Jersey, many are wondering what does a motor vehicle stop look like now when the officer approaches and smells pot? According to our NJ Attorney General, the current instruction to the police is for the officer to first take the traditional investigative steps to determine probable cause.

In scenario 1: Is the driver operating the vehicle under the influence of any substance, including marijuana. Keep in mind that while possession of certain amounts of marijuana is legal in New Jersey now, it is still not legal to drive while high. If the driver is intoxicated by drugs, the driver can be arrested and the vehicle searched. ​​

In scenario 2: If the driver is not under the influence, the new law is very clear that just the smell of marijuana does not establish reasonable suspicion to justify a continued stop or give probable cause to search the vehicle or persons in the car. That means that unless there is something more than an odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle, the vehicle and people inside must be released one the initial reason for the stop is addressed.