New Jersey Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana

Legalize Possession, Cultivation and Sale of Marijuana in New Jersey

On Monday, March 24, 2014, Legislation was introduced in New Jersey that would decriminalize marijuana in certain circumstances.  The Bill proposes to legalize possession, cultivation and sale of small amounts of marijuana.  “It’s time to update our archaic drug laws,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, said at a press conference announcing the bill’s introduction.  Scutari is the municipal prosecutor for the city of Linden.  He said the decades-long battle to eradicate marijuana use has “failed miserably.”  “We have seen billions of dollars spent on enforcement, our streets become increasingly dangerous and the ability of countless people to get a job, go to college or buy a home hindered by criminal records from petty crimes,” he said.

Proposed Marijuana Bill

The proposed bill would allow adults aged 21 and over to possess an ounce or less of marijuana and to cultivate up to six (6) plants in an enclosed, locked space for personal use and not for sale.  Sale of marijuana would be regulated the same way the state regulates liquor sales. The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control would be renamed the Division of Alcoholic Beverage and Marijuana Control with authority to issue retail-sales licenses.  Local governments would be allowed to ban by ordinance marijuana retail sales within their borders. Marijuana sale would be taxed at 7 percent, which Scutari said could reap tens of millions of dollars per year for the state. His bill would dedicate 70 percent of those tax revenues to the Transportation Trust Fund, in view of the state’s failure to enact a gas tax hike. The rest would be dedicated 20 percent to drug education programs and 10 percent to women’s health programs, each of which have suffered cuts.

As Burlington County Criminal Lawyers, we have been closely watching the progression of the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey.  Medical marijuana laws in New Jersey have already been passed and are being implemented.  As things stand today, marijuana is still a Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance (“CDS”) in New Jersey and, unless you are a registered patient in the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program, possession, cultivation and/or sale is illegal.