In a joint hearing last week, the appropriations committees for the New Jersey State Senate and Assembly recommended a bill to legalize the adult possession and use of marijuana and permit its commercialization in New Jersey through growers and shops. So, does this mean that pot is now legal in New Jersey? Not quite. The bill must first be reviewed and voted on by the full Legislature. Lawmakers have already indicated that they expect multiple amendments to the legislation before it may be passed. If the bill passes, multiple other factors will impact the timeline of the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey.
When will Pot be Legal in NJ?
The first factor in this timeline is how long it will take to amend and agree upon a final bill. There have already been several versions of the bill and many amendments made—as recently as the very day of the vote. If the bill passes both bodies in the Legislature, it must then go on to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for approval. Although he has not commented on how he will vote on this particular bill, Gov. Murphy has publicly indicated his support for the legalization of marijuana. Furthermore, even if the bill were to pass, the state would need time to establish the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which would make many of the rules relating to the marijuana industry in New Jersey and handle matters like considering applications from growers and shops, issuing licenses, and conducting inspections of businesses. Setting up the Commission is estimated to take about a year to complete.
Can I no Longer be Arrested for Marijuana if it’s Legalized?
If the proposed marijuana law passes, it will mean much fewer arrests for law enforcement and a serious reduction in cases filling up municipal court dockets around New Jersey. Right now, if you are caught in possession of any amount of marijuana, even including residue on drug paraphernalia, you can be charged with a disorderly persons offense and sentenced to up to 6 months in prison. If you possess more than 50 grams of marijuana, it is an indictable offense and may lead law enforcement to believe you had an intent to distribute the pot, rather than use it yourself.
Keep in mind that even if this latest bill to legalize marijuana for adult use passes, it does not mean that marijuana offenses will cease to exist, they will just change. For example, the bill only proposes the legalization for adult use, so it will remain a juvenile offense to possess marijuana, if you are under the legal age. In addition, the industry is expected to be highly regulated. This bill does not propose that anyone will be able to have their own pot greenhouse or growing facility. Only licensed growers will be permitted to grow marijuana in New Jersey. Businesses involved in the marijuana industry will also be subject to special taxes. In other words, you won’t be able to sell marijuana as a general member of the public. In fact, some have proposed enhanced penalties for individuals charged with illegally distributing marijuana in New Jersey.
Charged for Marijuana: Woodbridge, East Brunswick, Piscataway NJ
Currently, the future legal status of marijuana in New Jersey remains in limbo until this legislation is finalized and necessary regulations are established. The criminal lawyers at our firm have represented clients in thousands of marijuana offenses cases and, if the law on marijuana in New Jersey changes, we will remain fully abreast of these legal developments to best protect your rights. If you need help with a current marijuana case or have been arrested because you didn’t understand the current laws, please contact our local office in Edison at (732) 659-9600 and we would be happy to assist you. Our consultations are free of cost and a member of our legal team is always available to discuss your situation.
For additional information regarding this matter, visit the following: After major vote, how soon could N.J. see legal weed?