Lawmakers informed the the public recently that they were canceling a highly anticipated vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana for adult use in New Jersey. This is a blow to Governor Phil Murphy, who made marijuana legalization one of the platforms of his last election campaign. Many observers saw the cannabis legalization vote as a bellwether of whether Murphy had the ability to rally lawmakers and implement his legislative agenda. Continue reading for more information about what happened to the vote, the possible future of legal marijuana in New Jersey, and the risk of criminal prosecution associated with marijuana for recreational purposes until further notice. Our NJ marijuana defense lawyers fight charges for marijuana and other drugs on behalf of clients in Linden, Roselle Park, Berkeley Heights, Scotch Plains, Cranford, Mountainside, and throughout Union County on a regular basis. If you need to speak with an attorney about a marijuana case, call our local Cranford office today at (908) 838-0150 to get a consultation free of charge.
Risk of Criminal Prosecution for Marijuana in New Jersey
Until the New Jersey legislature or a ballot initiative succeeds in legalizing cannabis for recreational use in the state, using marijuana without a medical prescription exposes you to the risk of criminal prosecution under a wide variety of circumstances.
For example, you can be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana (also known as drug DUI) if you smoke or take so much that it impairs your driving. If police find out, you can also be arrested and prosecuted for distributing marijuana and the penalties get worse as the amount of the drug that you alleged sold or intended to sell increases. On top of that, if your charges originate in a school zone or on certain types of property, the consequences of a conviction are even more severe. You can read our page on Distribution of CDS in a School Zone for additional information.
Moreover, cultivating marijuana is a serious crime that carries up to 20 years in prison. New Jersey law does not allow growing your own weed for any reason and even if new legislation is passed, this is unlikely to change. You should also be aware that even mere possession of a marijuana pipe can result in your conviction for a disorderly persons offense and potential jail time. Beyond having a criminal record, you may also lose your license for up to two years.
What Happened to New Jersey Legalizing Weed Soon?
Senate President Stephen Sweeney held a news conference outside the Trenton Statehouse to explain why the long-awaited vote to legalize recreational cannabis use had been suddenly canceled. He didn’t have the votes. Sweeney explained that he needed twenty-one votes in the Legislature’s upper house to legalize recreational cannabis, and he just couldn’t manage to muster enough support. He thus canceled the vote to avoid a defeat in the legislature.
Sources have reported that the proposed bill was only three to five votes short of the required twenty-one. Governor Murphy and other key legislative leaders apparently spent hours making phone calls to persuade other lawmakers to pass the legalization bill, but they fell just short. Sweeney has candidly stated that he underestimated the challenges associated with passing a recreational cannabis bill.
Several key lawmakers have stated that they plan to schedule a new vote on legalizing recreational cannabis for adult use in short order. Some have even stated a vote may be held as early as next month. That said, Governor Murphy and his allies in the legislature have already been working for over a year to pass a recreational marijuana bill. It remains to be seen whether they will succeed in setting a new vote in the near future. Some news sources have reported that if lawmakers fail to pass a legalization bill, they may rather ask voters to approve a ballot referendum on recreational cannabis legalization next year.
Need a Lawyer for Marijuana Charges in Linden, NJ
If you are arrested on other marijuana charges, you should contact an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Our firm is dedicated to defending clients facing criminal charges involving weed and other drugs and we can help. Contact us at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation.