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Michele Finizio Speaks to The Inquirer About Marijuana Legalization in NJ and PAMichele Finizio Speaks to The Inquirer About Marijuana Legalization in NJ and PA

Marijuana possession has been all but decriminalized in the Philadelphia area. In recent years, police officers would arrest thousands of people annually for even the smallest amount found on their person. Now, officers are instead issuing tickets that result in $25 fines. But that doesn’t mean that people found in possession of marijuana just outside Philadelphia won’t face severe consequences.

Marijuana Arrest in Plymouth Township, PA

A recent incident involving marijuana made headlines in Philadelphia. In March 2018, Corey Thornton was headed home to Philadelphia from the Plymouth Meeting Mall on the Germantown Pike. Thornton was pulled over by officers from Plymouth Township, who later claimed that they could smell marijuana coming from Thornton’s vehicle when they were driving behind him. During the subsequent traffic stop, the officers confiscated three vials that contained marijuana and a joint.

Rising Marijuana Arrests in Philadelphia Suburbs

Despite most of the country becoming more accepting of marijuana possession and use, there are townships and cities around Philadelphia that are still arresting thousands of people per year for possession of the drug. In four suburban counties that surround Philadelphia, 3,100 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2017. This represents an 11 percent increase from 2016.

In a handful of counties in New Jersey, the numbers are even worse. The counties of Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester saw a 40-percent rise in marijuana arrests from 2015 to 2016. African Americans account for 40 percent of the arrests in South Jersey and the Philadelphia area, even though they are just 12 percent of the combined population between South Jersey and the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA.

Explaining the Increase in Marijuana Arrests in NJ and PA

Many prosecutors and defense attorneys in both states have offered reasons as to why there has been an increase in marijuana arrests over the last few years. One reason is rulings issued by the both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the New Jersey Supreme Court. The courts have made it easier for police officers to initiate searches when detecting the odor of the drug.

Michele Finizio, a criminal defense attorney based in Moorestown, New Jersey, said that the ruling from the New Jersey Supreme Court created an opening for police to conduct more car searches than in the past. “It’s a really good weapon for them,” Finizio told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The last year for which data is available in New Jersey is 2016. In 2016, police across the state made around 32,000 arrests for possession of marijuana. This marked an increase of 7,400 arrests from 2015, which was the year that the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its ruling related to marijuana possession.

Contact an Experienced Cherry Hill Marijuana Possession Attorney Today

Facing a charge for marijuana possession or intent to distribute is a challenge that no one should have to deal with on their own. It is in your best interest to contact an experienced New Jersey drug crime defense attorney about your case the minute you are allowed a phone call. Michele Finizio is an experienced Cherry Hill criminal defense attorney who can take care of your case through every step of the legal process. She represents clients charged with marijuana possession in Camden, Gloucester Township, Voorhees, Pennsauken, and Lindenwold, NJ. Call (609) 230-0374 or email her to schedule a free consultation today. The firm’s main office is located at 9 E Main St, Moorestown, NJ 08057, in addition to an office located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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I could not have asked for a better attorney. Michele Finizio treated my cases and the cases of those I've recommended, as if we were part of her family.

-D.A.