In a message released to residents of Hopewell Valley, police administration said that one aspect not expected under the new laws signed on Feb. 22 had been the prohibiting of police departments to notify parents or guardians, if young people under 21 years old are found to possess marijuana or alcoholic beverages as a first offense.
Officials with the state Association of Chiefs of Police met with New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on Wednesday to try to resolve questions and issues they have with enforcing new marijuana laws now that adult-use recreational marijuana is legal.
Police cannot use underage possession of marijuana or alcohol as a reason to search the young person or their car, he said. The young person cannot be arrested or taken into custody, except to the extent required to issue a written warning.
Caloiaro emphasized that the Lawrence Township Police Department has always used non-punitive measures for the majority of cases of underage possession and consumption of alcohol, and of possession and consumption of marijuana.
Formal charges have always been a last resort, Caloiaro said.
Racial disparity in New Jersey prohibition
Between 2010 and 2018, Black people were 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis across the state. In certain counties, that discrepancy shoots up to over 13. And according to the ACLU, the disparity has gotten worse over time—in 2000, Black people were arrested 2.2 times as often.
To judge by DeAngelo’s illustrious career in cannabis, the officer’s warning had the opposite effect. When a high school sports injury left him depressed and in pain, his brother passed him a joint and one hit turned him into a cannabis believer. DeAngelo never looked back. His lengthy cannabis resume includes decades working on voter initiatives to legalize cannabis, serving as a founding board member for the California Cannabis Industry Association, and co-founding Harborside, one of the world’s largest cannabis retailers.
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.
Police officers and municipal prosecutors must halt arrests and drop charges in low-level marijuana possession cases now rendered legal by New Jersey's marijuana legalization laws, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal directed Tuesday.
The move is the most immediate, wide-ranging impact of the legal weed bills signed into law Monday by Gov. Phil Murphy, who hailed them as the end to "New Jersey's broken, indefensible marijuana laws."
New Jersey police have arrested more than 6,000 people for low-level cannabis possession despite voters approving legalization reforms last November, according to a state judiciary report outlined by NJ.com. In January, police arrested 2,378 people for possessing less than 50 grams of cannabis, an increase from the 2,125 people arrested for possession in November and 1,703 arrested in December.
The illicit pot shop where Kelvin worked wasn’t an outlier: In fact, the majority of shops in LA are unlicensed. In the entire city, only 184 pot shops, less than 1 in 5, are licensed. Many Angelenos have no idea that the place they buy their cannabis—or in Kelvin’s case, report to work—might be operating outside the law. This gray-market section of the industry established itself over more than a decade, between about 2005 and 2018, when local politicians were reluctant to regulate an industry that was breaking federal law.
Forchion, who owns a Trenton cafe that has been openly advertising the sale of illegal marijuana, said the officer simply didn't like his political stance on marijuana.
"This was a street robbery by the Wanaque police department," Forchion added.
"This guy started talking about the gateway theory. He started talking about kids and heroin. He did not like me. And he did not like the Weedmobile. And it will be part of my lawsuit that he used my free speech and my freedom of expression as justification to initiate police action."