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    Marijuana a hazard to our roads (Letter)

    Manish Panghal via Unsplash

    For those of you who are readers of Montclair Local’s “Letters to The Editor,” my views are no surprise when it comes to the legalization of recreational marijuana in the State of New Jersey, and the consequences for driving while under the influence of marijuana.

    I have spoken about the downfalls of having no scientific testing (other than consent blood tests) or procedures to detect impairment of those suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana. It is my professional opinion that reliance on drug recognition expert officers will give lawyers defending these cases in court a field day. With the passing of the legalization of marijuana, and the increase of other drug legalization efforts, impaired drivers will continue to travel on U.S. roadways.

    I would like to offer some statistics to back up what I have been saying for the last five months. In the May 2021 edition of the International Association of Chiefs of Police publication, the article “Teaming Up to Address Drugged Driving” discussed the following. Self-reported data from 2019 showed 28.7 million U.S. drivers ages 16 and older drove under the influence; 13.6 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs, and 12.8 million specifically drove under the influence of marijuana. Drugged driving was most prevalent among drivers ages 21 through 25 (12.7 %) and ages 16 to 20 (9.4%). I would like to point out these statistics are from a 2019 report and will surely grow when this new law becomes fully effected in the State of New Jersey.

    Recent changes in many U.S. state laws regarding marijuana use, both for medical purposes and  recreational use, have brought greater attention to driving under the influence of cannabis.  Law enforcement as well as the public sector must promote greater emphasis on the message “Don’t drive drunk or high.” Respect yourself and respect the driving public.

    It did not take long for those crafty entrepreneurs dealing in the sale marijuana to find a loophole  in New Jersey’s legal pot law to circumvent the system. This new scheme is called “gifting weed,” where a company allows you to buy cookies that sell at a price of $50 or more, which then come with a gift of an ounce of cannabis flower, as a token of appreciation. It should be noted licenses to sell legal marijuana in New Jersey are still months away. As I have indicated in my previous letters, where there is a will they will find a way to circumvent the system.

    Thomas J. Russo
    Former Montclair Township police chief and director of public safety


    Montclair Local’s Opinion section is an open forum for civil discussion in which we invite readers to discuss town matters, articles published in Montclair, or previously published letters. Views expressed and published in this section are solely those of the writers, and do not represent the views of Montclair Local.

    Letters to the editor: To submit a letter to the editor, email letters@montclairlocal.news, or mail “Letters to the Editor,” 309 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ, 07042 (email is preferred). Submissions must include the name, address and phone number of the writer for verification. Only the writer’s name and town of residence will be published. Montclair Local does not publish anonymous opinion pieces.

    Letters must be no more than 500 words in length, and must be received by 5 p.m. Monday to be eligible for potential publication in that week’s Thursday print issue. Letters may be edited by Montclair Local for grammar and style. While our goal is to publish most letters we receive, Montclair Local reserves the right to decline publication of a letter for any reason, including but not limited to concerns about unproven or defamatory statements, inappropriate language, topic matter far afield of the particular interests of Montclair residents, or available space.

    Town Square: Montclair Local also accepts longer-form opinion essays from residents aiming to generate discussion on topics specific to the community, under our “Town
    Square” banner. “Town Square” essays should be no more than 750 words in length, and topics should be submitted to letters@montclairlocal.news at least seven days prior to publication.

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