Is New Jersey Legalizing Marijuana?


Possession of Weed Attorneys in Toms River, NJ

Recently, some policy changes in the enforcement of marijuana charges have occurred in the state of New Jersey, prompting some to wonder whether New Jersey is on the path to legalizing marijuana. However, while New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has expressed his support for the legalization of marijuana, no such legislation has been passed. Currently, the new policy changes can at best be described as a trend towards decriminalization. If you have been charged with marijuana possession in the Ocean County area or you have a pending case in municipal court, this article provides extensive information about the pulse of New Jersey marijuana law and charges for weed in NJ.

Last Tuesday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced that municipal marijuana cases state-wide would be adjourned until September and his office will be issuing guidance for prosecutors by the end of August. This announcement came shortly after Jersey City announced reform measures it would be taking in the enforcement and prosecution of marijuana charges, which would effectively begin to decriminalize marijuana offenses in the city. However, following a conversation between Jersey City officials and the Attorney General, Jersey City rescinded the directive and the Attorney General responded by issuing the call for the state-wide adjournment of municipal marijuana cases.

It is important to note that this call for state-wide adjournments has not decriminalized or legalized marijuana possession in New Jersey. If the police have probable cause to believe you have violated one of New Jersey’s existing and currently unchanged laws on marijuana possession, you may be arrested, even though your case may be temporarily postponed in court due to state-wide adjournment of these cases.

What Are the Current Restrictions on Marijuana Possession in New Jersey?

The possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana is a disorderly persons offense. If you are charged with possession of 50 grams or less, your case will be heard in municipal court and you may face up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, if convicted. These are the types of cases that have been temporarily adjourned under the directive of the New Jersey Attorney General.

If you are charged with possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, it is a fourth degree indictable offense, and you may face up to 18 months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. Additionally, if there is probable cause to believe the quantity of marijuana you had was not intended merely for personal use, you may be charged with possession with intent to distribute. The New Jersey Attorney General’s directive for adjournment of municipal marijuana cases does not impact fourth degree marijuana cases, which are heard in county superior court.
In addition to these penalties, if you are convicted of a drug crime in New Jersey, you may lose your drivers’ license for a period of 6 months to 2 years.

Am I Eligible for Conditional Discharge for My First Marijuana Offense?

If you have never before been convicted of a controlled substance violation or another crime and you are charged with possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana in New Jersey, you may be eligible for conditional discharge. Conditional discharge is a type of diversionary program that allows you to avoid a conviction on your criminal record. As the name suggestions, in this program you are put on probation with certain conditions in place. If you comply with conditional discharge program requirements, including passing any random drug tests and not being arrested again during the probationary term, your charges will be dismissed. You are then eligible for an expungement of the arrest and marijuana charges in six months.

If you have been charged with a marijuana offense and are wondering how the new policy changes in New Jersey may impact your case, call the experienced criminal defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law to review your case. We can be reached anytime at (848) 238-2100 or online to provide you with a free consultation. From our convenient Point Pleasant office, we defend clients against marijuana charges in Toms River, Manchester, Lacey Township, Seaside Heights, Lavallette, Berkeley Township, and throughout the Ocean County area.

William Proetta

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.