Recreational Marijuana Is Now Legal in New Jersey
Recreational Marijuana Legalized In NJ: What It Means for You
On February 22, 2021, New Jersey made history as Governor Phil Murphy signed three cannabis reform bills into law. These bills legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis and possession as well as decriminalize marijuana and hashish possession. In addition, one of the bills reduces the penalties for underage possession of marijuana. Altogether, these bills will create a regulated cannabis marketplace in New Jersey.
This legislation follows a 3-year battle to regulate cannabis in New Jersey. Not to mention, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly supported cannabis legalization by a 2-to-1 margin in the November 2020 election.
Needless to say, the Garden State is making progressive leaps in recreational cannabis legislation.
What does this mean for you? Well for starters, if you are 21 and over, you may legally possess 6 ounces or less of recreational marijuana and use it on private property. But if you’ve already been arrested for petty marijuana possession (6 ounces or less) you will be able to “get relief and move forward,” according to Gov. Murphy. In other words, you may be able to get your possession charges expunged from your criminal record.
If you are under 21 and convicted for underage possession of marijuana, your penalty will no longer be a maximum of 6 months in jail and $1,000 fines. Instead, a conviction will be punishable by a warning, parental notification, and/or referral to community services for subsequent violations.
However, since the legal marijuana marketplace will begin forming in the coming months and years, adults can’t simply walk into a dispensary and purchase marijuana right away. The impacts of these cannabis reform laws will take some time to roll out.
Reasons for Reform
What motivated Gov. Murphy to decriminalize marijuana use and possession in New Jersey?
He states that “This legislation will establish an industry that brings equity and economic opportunity to our communities, while establishing minimum standards for safe products and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on real public safety matters,” says Gov. Murphy. “Today, we’re taking a monumental step forward to reduce racial disparities in our criminal justice system.”
To put the Governor’s words into perspective, a 2018 study by the ACLU found that Black residents in New Jersey were arrested at a rate 3.5 times higher than White residents, despite similar amounts of usage. This is one of the many statistics that exemplify the racial disparities in drug arrests made by New Jersey State Police.
How We Can Help
We are thrilled to see marijuana reform in the Garden State. Countless people with drug possession convictions may be eligible to get their records expunged, others will face fewer penalties for possessing marijuana, and all adults in New Jersey will soon be able to use marijuana recreationally.
Remember, these changes will not become effective for an indefinite amount of time, so if you are looking to get your record expunged in a timely manner, reach out to our criminal defense experts for help. We also advocate for clients who were arrested for drug possession and other drug-related crimes.
Contact our firm online or at (210) 574-7919 to chat with us about your situation!