A New Jersey couple struggle to retain custody of their toddler after it was pulled over in North Carolina by officials then charged with a minor marijuana offense.
The arrest is an example of how drug laws can escalate simple traffic stops into serious crimes – and why New Jersey has tried to legalize marijuana.
New Jersey lawmakers passed legislation this month to decriminalize marijuana possession and legalize certain recreational activities after the November poll was passed by an overwhelming majority. Marijuana remains illegal in North Carolina.
Raymond Sykes and Kaila Boulware were traveling through North Carolina overnight with their 9-month-old son on December 3 when they were stopped on a broken taillight and “suspicion,” Montgomery County sheriff officials said.
The couple said officers aimed their laser pointer guns at them in order to hit Sykes without provocation, according to a fundraiser by GoFundMe for their legal expenses. There is no police video of the arrest.
NJ.com reported that officials accused Sykes of beating officials and that officials said they found marijuana and drug paraphernalia after discovering a smell of cannabis. The couple’s attorney told NJ.com that the couple owned legal CBD oil.
North Carolina authorities returned the child Monday, but the couple said the New Jersey child protection services were conducting an investigation.
“The fight is not over yet,” said Boulware in an emotional reunion that was taped. “Everyone, please keep praying, stay on our side and continue to stand up for all these children who have been taken from their families.”
New Jersey lawmakers voted this month to end arrests for possession of less than 6 ounces of marijuana and sales of up to one ounce of marijuana. The bill was not legally signed.
The legislation has also taken a huge step towards building the state-run adult recreational marijuana industry.
Sergio Bichao is the assistant digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news: call 609-775-9793 or email [email protected].