As the January draws to a close, our offices thought we should provide an update on the ongoing efforts to legalize marijuana in New Jersey. Our last update left off stating that Attorney General Gurbir Grewal had instructed prosecutors to delay low-level marijuana cases until January 25, 2021. On January 22, the Attorney General released a new statement instructing prosecutors to seek further adjournment until at least March 31, 2021, for the same cases.
These delays reflect stalled marijuana legalization reforms as bills describing the regulations for the anticipated marijuana market have yet to be signed by Governor Murphy. Governor Murphy did not sign two bills that decriminalized cannabis and outlined dispensary guidelines that were passed by the legislature, citing his concern for underage marijuana possession and use. The Governor would like to penalize possession of weed for those between the ages of 18 and 20 years old, with a maximum fine of $250 for less than one ounce and $500 for an amount between one and six ounces.
Supporters of the Governor’s intended penalties state that marijuana should be treated like alcohol, and underage drinking is a disorderly persons offense and charged similarly with a maximum of $500.
The opposition to the Governor’s penalties comes from many social justice advocates. They state that one of the goals of marijuana legalization was to limit interactions with police, and penalizing young adults does not accomplish this goal. Additionally, with legalization comes reform to clear criminal records for those with marijuana-related charges. It does not make sense to saddle those under 21 with these charges to have them go through the process of having their records expunged later on.
As it stands right now, marijuana possession is still illegal in New Jersey and carries a fine of $1000 and up to six months in jail. This is slow progress from the November referendum that voted to legalize the drug, but not entirely unexpected.
The Law Offices of Eric B. Morrell keep up-to-date on marijuana legalization news to provide our clients with the best representation and obtain the best outcomes for their cases. We are currently handling cases that we have adjourned past the original date of January 25, 2021, and now have asked for adjournments for after March, in compliance with the Attorney General’s message. If you or a loved one needs representation for a marijuana charge, contact our offices for a complimentary consultation.