New Jersey’s New Guidelines on Marijuana Prosecution
Article Written by Nathan J. Mammarella, Esq
On November 3, 2020, New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for all adults over the age of twenty-one.
However, marijuana is not yet legal in New Jersey. Although the ballot measure has passed, it will not take effect until January 1, 2021. Understanding that New Jersey has effectively mandated that marijuana will be legal, the New Jersey Attorney General released a memorandum directing that the Municipal Court Prosecutor postpone all low-level marijuana cases until at least January 25, 2021. In justification, the Attorney General provided a Statement indicating that “fairness and justice requires that we, as prosecutors, not move forward with charges that the Legislature may foreclose in the near future.” As such, if a Defendant is charged with the following offenses, their case will be postponed:
- Possession of marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(3);
- Possession of marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(4);
- Being under the influence of marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(c);
- Failure to Turn Over Marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(d);
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia only involving marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2;
- Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance while operating a motor vehicle in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1; and
- Any Disorderly Persons Offense or Petty Disorderly Persons offense subject to a Conditional Dismissal.
The memorandum further directs Municipal Court Prosecutors to use their discretion in determining whether to postpone marijuana offenses when there are other charges pending that are not marijuana related.
Until the legislature formally passes a bill legalizing marijuana, possession is still illegal in the State of New Jersey. ]
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