EDISON — With the ongoing discussion of marijuana legalization in the state, Sayreville Police Chief John Zebrowski, on behalf of the Middlesex County Chiefs of Police, said the prospect brings concerns for law enforcement officials in terms of incidents of driving while impaired.
“Marijuana is not a benign drug,” Zebrowski said during an Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee hearing held at Middlesex County College on April 14. “There are similarities when a person is drunk, but there are differences.”
Zebrowski, who has 30 years of law enforcement experience, said alcohol can be detected through a person’s blood levels; however, with THC, a chemical compound in marijuana, it is stored in fat, which is more difficult to detect and enforce.
“THC is metabolized quicker,” he said. “And data is limited [surrounding marijuana use and impaired driving],” he said.
Zebrowski was one of many speakers who voiced their opinions on the prospective legislation and its impact on the public health, criminal justice system and economy. The committee, led by Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset), is sponsoring three hearings around the state. The hearing on April 14 was the first.
“The committee is eager to continue this discussion as it pertains to the public health, criminal justice system, and economy in our state,” Danielsen said. “We look forward to furthering our education on this subject as we listen to various viewpoints and consider all arguments.”
The state Senate and Assembly are considering bills that would allow people at least 21 years of age to possess and use personal amounts of marijuana. Zebrowski requested the committee postpone its decision until comprehensive research can provide law enforcement better statistics on driving while impaired by the drug.
The chief said he understands the needs for medical marijuana; however, he said there needs to be a more balanced approach with education and rehabilitation.
Linda Dorsey-Agudosi, of Franklin Township, shared how a life-changing car accident led her down a path of needing to take numerous prescription drugs.
“I was non-functional a lot of those days,” she said.
After an introduction to medical marijuana, Dorsey-Agudosi said she is more functional.
“With medical marijuana, I have not had any side effects,” she said.
Dorsey-Agudosi said the medical marijuana business is a cash business, which creates a struggle financially.
“There is no co-pay,” she said.
And with limited medical marijuana dispensaries across the state, it is hard to get access to what she needs.
“It would be wonderful if there was a delivery service,” she said.
Among the many speakers was Michael Feinsod, chairman of the board of directors at General Cannabis Corporation in Denver.
General Cannabis Corporation, according to its website, serves as a comprehensive resource consulting company for providers available to the regulated cannabis industry. The company is a partner to the cultivation, production and retail side of the cannabis business for the 14 states that has legalized the use of marijuana.
Feinsod said with states beginning to consider legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, people have to move away from the mindset of the “smoking weed to get high” concept. He said just like having a beer, the use has to be used responsibly.
“The purpose is for pleasure,” he said, noting recreational use in Colorado is restricted to one’s home. “There is a restricted use [of marijuana] outside on the street in Colorado. All states have different polices.”
Other speakers shared concerns of packaging of marijuana products, which include soda, gummies and lollipops, which cater to the younger generation.
The committee held a second hearing at Rowan University in Glassboro on April 21 and the third hearing will be held on May 12 at Bergen County College in Paramus.
Contact Kathy Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org.