TRENTON, NJ - In light of news of a deal on legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use, Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) urged the bill sponsors to include a mandate for continued drug testing for public transit drivers so that any driver who tests positive for marijuana is not allowed to put commuters at risk.
“In case Governor Murphy has forgotten, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and NJ Transit is subject to federal regulations and funding. If a bus driver tests positive for marijuana, he or she should lose their job, whether the drug is legal in New Jersey or not,” Senator Pennacchio said.
“I remain strongly opposed to marijuana legalization on the whole, but if Democrats are determined to get this public safety disaster of a bill signed into law, then the least they can do is add a mandate for continued marijuana drug testing for public transit drivers.
“We have no way of knowing whether that transit driver smoked an hour before or a week before they got behind the wheel, but that’s not a chance I’m willing to take.
“Until we have a breathalyzer-equivalent that can confirm drugged driving on the spot, public transit employees who test positive for marijuana must be held accountable for potentially putting commuters in harm’s way.”
Pennacchio noted that the most recent version of the bill publicly available during the Budget Committee’s November review, does not address how the state will handle marijuana drug testing requirements for public transit employees if the drug is legalized. New Jersey’s law enforcement community, including the State Police Chiefs, have testified in opposition to the bill due to concerns revolving around the lack of technology, funding, resources, and personnel to identify and prosecute drugged drivers.
“Our number one goal should be to keep our residents safe,” Senator Pennacchio said. “NJ Transit already has a bad reputation in that regard. We shouldn’t do anything that puts our commuters at an even greater risk of injury.
“Once again, I am calling on my colleagues in the Legislature not to rush towards marijuana legalization. We live in the most densely populated state in the nation. This is not the time or the place to broaden access to a drug that could put millions of people in danger.”