NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL INSTRUCTS MUNICIPAL COURT PROSECUTORS TO ADJOURN CASES INVOLVING SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA POSSESSION
Submitted by New Jersey Drug Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
On November 25, 2020, New Jersey’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal provided guidance for prosecutors in relation to marijuana cases that are pending. This guidance came after New Jersey voters elected to amend the New Jersey Constitution to legalize marijuana.
The Attorney General advised all municipal, county, and state prosecutors to pause prosecuting cases involving a small amount of marijuana possession. He advised prosecutors to seek an adjournment until at least January 25, 2021 of low level marijuana crimes.
The directive did not stop police from arresting and charging people for small amounts of marijuana. The directive also does not cover driving while intoxicated (DWI) involving marijuana. For more serious charges on top of marijuana crimes the Attorney General advised prosecutors to use their discretion to dismiss or postpone the entire case.
This directive is to allow the legislature more time to produce marijuana legislation. Currently, there is proposed legislation that is being amended and moving towards a vote to move the bill to the Governor’s desk to become law.
As discussed in a prior blog, here are some of the key provisions related to personal marijuana use contained in the proposed senate bill:
- You must be 21 years of age or older to purchase or consume marijuana in any capacity
- Possessing, purchasing, or transporting one ounce or less of marijuana, or the equivalent of one ounce or less of cannabis infused products, or cannabis paraphernalia is now lawful.
- Consumption of marijuana shall not be permissible in public areas, except designated or permitted areas – similar to cigar lounges — consistent with alcohol.
- Consumption of marijuana in rented premises and multifamily units shall be regulated by the owner.
- Consumption of marijuana is illegal in a school zone, consistent with alcohol, and is a disorderly persons offense punishable up to six months in jail or fine of up to $1,000 or both.
- Similar to open container laws for alcohol, it shall be a violation of Title 39 of the motor vehicle code for the operator to possess an open container or open package of a cannabis item. First offense $200 fine, subsequent $250 fine or community service.
- Passengers in motor vehicles are permitted to possess and consume cannabis items, other than those intended for smoking, vaping, or aerosolizing.
- Possession or use of marijuana in a public place by a person under the age of 21 that would normally be permissible for someone 21 or older, carries a petty disorderly persons offense and a fine of not less than $250.
- Underage possession on private property is a civil penalty of $100, $200 for second offense, and $350 for third and subsequent offenses.
- Marijuana is not longer a Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance, and shall not be designate or rescheduled in any schedule of CDS.
- A person would not lose their driver’s license for sentencing after the bill goes into effect if the crime was unlawful possession or distribution of marijuana under five pounds.
- The odor of raw or burnt marijuana no longer creates a reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime unless on school grounds.
It is important to understand that these provisions are still proposed, and will not be law until the legislature votes on the proposal, and the governor signs it into law. Until that time, we will continue to track the progress of this proposed bill, and any other changes in marijuana, cannabis, weed, and hashish law.
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court and municipal court for criminal matters, including marijuana issues and DUI / marijuana DWI. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to uphold their constitutional rights, and ensure law enforcement follow proper procedures to legally make an arrest.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any town in New Jersey including Bass River, Beverly, Bordentown City, Bordentown Township, Burlington City, Burlington Township, Chesterfield, Cinnaminson, Delanco, Delran, Eastampton, Edgewater Park, Evesham, Fieldsboro, Florence, Hainesport, Lumberton, Mansfield, Maple Shade, Medford Lakes, Medford Township, Moorestown, Mount Holly, Mount Laurel, New Hanover, North Hanover, Palmyra, Pemberton Borough, Pemberton Township, Riverside, Riverton, Shamong, Southampton, Springfield, Tabernacle, Washington Township, Westampton, Willingboro, Woodland Township, and Wrightstown.