While New Jersey voters approved a legalization referendum during the November election—and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) encouraged prosecutorial discretion for marijuana cases in earlier memos—police have continued to enforce criminalization in the absence of regulations.
Now that Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has signed enabling legislation—in addition to a separate decriminalization bill and a compromise measure on youth penalties—Grewal is using his authority to prevent ongoing arrests and prosecutions of people for activity that’s been made lawful.
The first directive “instructs state, county, and municipal prosecutors to dismiss charges pending as of February 22, 2021 for any marijuana offense that is no longer illegal under state law.”
The second “provides guidance to law enforcement officers regarding new enforcement requirements pursuant to the marijuana decriminalization law.”
Legal cannabis sales won’t launch for several months, so the attorney general said that interim guidance is necessary so that people don’t continue to be caught up in the criminal justice system over marijuana possession or consumption.