Being arrested and charged with a marijuana offense can and still does happen in beach towns like Point Pleasant, Lavallete, Surf City, Beach Haven, and Seaside Park on a regular basis. You may have thought you couldn’t get in trouble for possession, selling, growing, or driving under the influence of weed in New Jersey, but the stark reality is: you can. March was supposed to be the month that New Jersey followed at least ten other states in legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults. That didn’t happen. New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney announced that he lacked the votes required for the bill to pass in the state Senate (several news reports have stated that the Assembly was ready to pass the bill). Here are some of the details surrounding why the cannabis legalization bill failed, along with an examination of the continued criminal consequences associated with possessing, distributing, or cultivating marijuana in New Jersey, as well as driving on cannabis (DUI), or carrying marijuana paraphernalia. If you are facing marijuana charges at the Jersey Shore, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at our firm can help. Call (848) 238-2100 now for a free consultation.
Marijuana Remains Illegal in NJ after Legalization Bill Stalls
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wanted New Jersey to be the first state to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use through the means of a bill passing through the legislature. Many other states have legalized recreational marijuana through ballot initiatives, not through legislative efforts. Governor Murphy noted, in hindsight, that if passing a legalization bill were easy, maybe more states would have done it that way rather than by approving constitutional amendments. Murphy admitted that he and his legislative allies had made some mistakes along the way in this effort to pass a sweeping legalization law that also included broad criminal expungements for low-level, non-violent drug offenses.
Critics of the bill pointed to poor drafting as a reason for why the recreational use bill failed. Kevin Sabet—the president and CEO of an advocacy group known as Smart Approaches to Marijuana—noted that the bill opened the door for big tobacco to come in and push out small growers, taking over any burgeoning cannabis industry that might spring up in the New Jersey. Sabet also criticized the bill’s poor regulation of the THC content in candies, cookies, gummies, pot bars, and other edibles. Critics like Mr. Sabet managed to gain the momentum required to stall the legalization vote, which was cancelled because Murphy and his allies simply didn’t have enough votes to pass it. Murphy has vowed to reschedule the vote soon, but for the time being, recreational marijuana remains illegal in New Jersey.
Charges for Marijuana in NJ Beach Towns
Until a recreational marijuana legalization bill passes in the New Jersey legislature, or until a ballot initiative permits adults to use marijuana recreationally, marijuana remains very much illegal in the state. You can still be arrested for possessing marijuana, with criminal charges escalating in severity based on the amount that you possess. You can read more about marijuana possession by accessing our page dedicated to the topic.
You can also be convicted of growing marijuana for recreational use or sale in New Jersey, with harsh consequences including extensive time in prison. You may also be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana—a law that even the recreational use bill did not propose changing—if you ingest enough marijuana that you cannot drive with the caution and care of a sober person. Marijuana and other forms of drug paraphernalia also remain illegal. For instance, you can face charges for a disorderly persons offense if you are caught with a bong or a glass pipe when the police pull you over for a traffic ticket or see you smoking in public. As you can see, there are numerous ways to find yourself charged with a crime involving weed as it stands in New Jersey.
Lawyer Needed for Jersey Shore Marijuana Case
If you or a loved one runs into legal trouble for a marijuana offense at the Jersey Shore, you should consult a highly qualified criminal defense lawyer about ways to resolve your case. Being arrested on any of the above pot related charges can permanently impact your ability to obtain employment and other opportunities. There are things that an experienced attorney can do to help you avoid these consequences, so call our local Jersey Shore defense lawyers to learn more. You can reach our office in Point Pleasant anytime at (848) 238-2100 contact us online for a free consultation.