Saturday, June 21, 2014

DNA samples from those who toke but not from those who possess?

June 21, 2014

Wendy S. Whitbeck, OLS Aide
Senate Law and Public Safety
via web form electronic correspondence

RE: Senate Bill 393

Dear Ms. Whitbeck:

I have a question about whether the narrow scope of the amendments the Committee made to the captioned bill at Thursday's hearing was intentional or the result of oversight.  I would appreciate if it you would respond to my inquiry or pass it on to someone, perhaps a Committee member, for a response.

Senate Bill No. 393, which was reported out of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on June 19, 2014, seeks to expand New Jersey's "DNA database to include samples from disorderly persons who are fingerprinted."  Under current law, only those who have been convicted of indictable offenses are required to provide a DNA sample to the database.

As a result of its June 19, 2014 hearing, the Committee removed two specific disorderly persons offenses from the list of those for which DNA samples must be provided.  Those offenses are shoplifting and "possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, or five grams or less of hashish."  Remaining in the list of compelled DNA donors, however, are those who are convicted of "any disorderly persons offense relating to narcotics or dangerous drugs for which a person is required to be fingerprinted pursuant to [N.J.S.A. 53:1-18.1]."  I have read N.J.S.A. 53:1-18.1 and have determined that it covers every drug offense.

Other than the offenses of possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana and possession of 5 grams or less of hashish, both of which are prohibited by subsection (a) of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10, I found two other disorderly persons offenses that "relat[e] to narcotics or dangerous drugs."  Those offenses, are:
1) being "under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance" for other than a medically prescribed purpose, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b), and

2) failing to voluntarily and immediately deliver to the nearest police station any CDS that is found or otherwise comes into a person's possession, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(c).
Was it the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee's intent to require DNA samples from those who are convicted of offenses under subsections b and c of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 while not requiring DNA samples to be taken from those convicted of subsection a of the same statute?

I believe that this may have been an oversight, as it seems incongruent for the Committee to demand DNA samples from those who are intoxicated from having smoked a marijuana cigarette but not from those who possess the same marijuana cigarette prior to it being smoked.

While I have a difficult time putting myself into the mind set of a person who still believes that marijuana should still be illegal, I would imagine that such a believer would find possession of marijuana to be a more serious offense than ingesting the substance, given that the possessor might be looking to sell the marijuana while those who are ingesting it are obviously just engaging in personal use.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

John Paff
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ  08875
Voice: 732-873-1251
Fax: 908-325-0129
e-mail: paff@pobox.com