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The New Jersey Judiciary on Monday announced that it has vacated or dismissed nearly 88,000 marijuana cases since July 1, when a decriminalization law took effect that mandated the relief for people who have been caught up in prohibition enforcement.
In a press release, the courts said these are just the first of about 360,000 cannabis cases that are eligible to be automatically vacated, dismissed and expunged. The expungement component of the process will happen “in the coming months.”
Possession Of Up To Six Ounces Now Legal
In 2021, New Jersey legalized and decriminalized cannabis. These new laws have great potential to advance racial and social justice. But creating a brand new industry in place of a decades-long regime of prohibition – marked by aggressive, racially discriminatory enforcement – is bound to have growing pains, and bound to raise questions.
The ACLU-NJ answers some frequently asked questions about what the new cannabis laws mean, and what to expect.
What's the difference between "cannabis" and "marijuana"?
The new legal industry
Possession of six ounces or less of marijuana — and using it on private property — is now decriminalized in New Jersey for people ages 21 and up. That means you can’t be criminally charged for it.
So far though, it still isn’t technically legal to buy or sell recreational marijuana, and won’t be until state officials write regulations and award licenses to the businesses that will make up the new legal market.
New Jersey voters approved recreational marijuana in November 2020. But it wasn't legal to fire up the bong until Gov. Phil Murphy signed the official framework into law on Feb. 22.
Now, adults 21 and over are allowed to consume cannabis on private property, although places like bars and restaurants can set their own rules. Similar to New Jersey's alcohol laws, it's still illegal to smoke or consume marijuana in a public place, such as a park or the beach.
Underage use is prohibited, but results in a series of written warnings instead of fines and arrest.
New Jersey’s top law enforcement official has released sweeping new guidelines for police in the wake of the state’s decriminalization of marijuana.
Under the guidelines released by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal Tuesday, police are no longer allowed to detain or arrest people for possessing or distributing small amounts of marijuana. Being under the influence of marijuana or possessing related paraphernalia are no longer crimes for people 21 and over.
The laws signed Monday allow the possession and use of marijuana by anyone over 21 years old within the state of New Jersey. They can have up to 6 ounces of weed on them without facing any penalty.
The laws also allow the purchase and sale of legal weed at state-licensed dispensaries, though it could be well over a year before recreational sales even began.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has set a deadline for Friday to reach an agreement with legislative leaders on cannabis legalization and decriminalization legislation that was sent to his desk last month.
Murphy has objected to inconsistent language in both bills that eliminated penalties for underage individuals caught in possession of the drug. If the administration hasn’t brokered a compromise on a clean-up bill before Friday, the governor plans to conditionally veto the measure.
We’re about two weeks from the deadline for Gov. Murphy to act on the weed legalization and decriminalization bills on his desk, and negotiations to date haven’t gotten far.
Feb. 8 is the drop dead date, as that’s the first quorum in the Assembly — where both bills originated — after the bill has been on Murphy’s desk for 45 days.
The administration has held conference calls with lawmakers, most recently the Assembly’s Black members. But they haven’t been fruitful.
The language of the proposal specifically stated that the “growth, cultivation, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packaging, transferring, and retail purchasing and consumption of cannabis…shall be lawful.”
The catch is that the voter-approved amendment also said these activities shall also be “subject to regulation by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission” and the commission’s “regulatory authority concerning legalized cannabis shall be authorized by law enacted by the Legislature.”