Article written by Nathan J. Mammarella, Esq
Is Cannabis Being Decriminalized in NJ? Is it Going to be Legal?
At a Glance:
- The State Assembly has voted to pass legislation to decriminalize marijuana in New Jersey
- Decriminalization still must be voted on and passed by the Senate
- Marijuana still provides reasonable suspicion to search your vehicle
- Legalization will be determined by majority vote on November 3, 2020
On June 18, 2020, the New Jersey State Assembly voted 63-10 to pass bill A1897, which would change current Marijuana laws in NJ and decriminalize marijuana possession of up to two (2) ounces. Currently, Possession of Marijuana is a Disorderly Persons Level Offense and carries with it a fine of up to $1,000.00 and a possible period of incarceration of up to six (6) months served in the county jail.
Under the new provisions of A1897, a conviction Possession of Marijuana of up to two (2) ounces will instead result in a $50 fine and no criminal record. Procedurally, the next step is for A1897 to be passed by the Senate before it could be signed into law by Governor Murphy.
Importantly, although this bill decriminalizes marijuana, it does not legalize it. There can still be a civil penalty imposed along with a seizure of the marijuana itself. Possession of marijuana of more than two (2) ounces, but less than one (1) pound, would now be classified as a Disorderly Persons level offense and punishable by up to six (6) months of incarceration in the county jail. Furthermore, because possession of marijuana is still not legal, the smell of marijuana within your motor vehicle may still allow law enforcement to conduct a search of your car to search for any illegal contraband.
NJ Cannabis Legalization Vote
The actual legalization process will be determined via a vote on November 3, 2020. On that date, the citizens of New Jersey will be asked to determine, via majority vote, whether marijuana will be fully legalized. The text of that ballot measure is as follows:
Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called “cannabis”?
Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market.
Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.
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