For the first time in New Jersey’s history all possession charges for small amounts of marijuana have been stopped as the state’s lawmakers continue to work on a new legislation to implement the recreational and legal use of the drug.
On November 25th, New Jersey Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal instructed all municipal, county and state prosecutors to stop processing marijuana cases until at least Jan. 25 2021. For marijuana cases that are already in the court, Grewal advises an adjournment till Jan. 25 but this only applies to cases that are marijuana related, like possessing a pipe. For cases that include a marijuana charge, prosecutors may postpone the entire case or dismiss the drug charge and carry on with the case.
Shortly after the election, Attorney General Grewal issued a short message reminding New Jersey residents that until lawmakers pass regulations, marijuana was still illegal.
The rate of arrests has not decreased in recent years. On average there are 105 arrests each day for charges of less than 50 grams of marijuana. In October, there were 3,281 charges. Possession of one ounce to five pounds of marijuana is currently punishable by three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney informally asked New Jersey policemen to stop arresting for minimal possession of marijuana. However, the directive does not stop police from arresting people for small amounts of cannabis. Furthermore, the order does not include charges for driving under the influence. The Attorney General’s Office can technically halt all arrests for minimal possession of marijuana but Governor Phil Murphy has not pushed the office to do so.
Read more: What Are The Different Schedules Of Drugs?
The New Adult-Use Cannabis Program
Since voters approved cannabis legalization on Election Day, the adult-use cannabis program has been pending in legislation. In early November, lawmakers passed two different versions of the bill, one of will decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and the other will set up new regulations for the industry. Lawmakers will take another look at the bill today on December 7th to decide on a unified bill that can be proposed to get votes on the floor.
In New Jersey, statistics show that African Americans are 3.45 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than other races. Lawmakers are still deciding how many dispensaries will open and whether or not they will implement an excise tax and also how they could direct the revenue towards communities of color.
Contact an Experienced Summit Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Possession Charges in Summit NJ
Were you arrested or charged with drug possession in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at Zegas Law have successfully represented clients charged with unlawful possession in Essex County, Union County, Morris County, Middlesex County, Somerset County, Bergen County and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 230-0374 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 60 Morris Turnpike #3, Summit, NJ 07901.
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.