New Jersey police will now break off arresting individuals who are 21 years old and above for possessing marijuana, four months after the state voted to legalize cannabis.
On February 22, 2021, New Jersey legalized recreational marijuana and became the latest US state to take this step. Marijuana became legal after Governor Phil Murphy inscribed bills that allow adult-use marijuana in the state.
This inscription comes more than four months after the US's election day when the New Jersey residents voted overwhelmingly to allow recreational weed legalization.
Like other US states, the New Jersey officials consider this legal step a criminal justice reform.
New Jersey Legalizes Recreational Weed
Finally, the Garden State has legalized recreational weed.
New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy inscribed bills last month that legalized recreational weed. This step followed a failed bid to legalize marijuana for personal use in this state's legislature. This move comes after disputes over the new system's look and a state ballot question that voters approved overwhelmingly.
The latest approved bill comes with strict stipulations, but it also revolves around community outreach. It has a new strategy that will promote a regulated marijuana marketplace, creating employment and reinvesting cash into the community.
But, what does it mean that New Jersey legalizes cannabis? Several aspects of the new paradigm – from past convictions expungement to the policing implications to the legal marketplace – remain hazy.
Keep reading for more details about New Jersey recreational cannabis legalization!
New Jersey Legalizes Cannabis – The New Paradigm
Now you can possess six ounces or fewer of recreational weed and use it privately if you're 21 years old and above. Therefore, you can't face criminal charges if the police find you with this amount.
However, it's still not technically legal for you to buy/sell marijuana. Selling and buying recreational marijuana will become legal after the New Jersey officials write down rules and award businesses with licenses that will allow them to run the business.
As per Dianna Houenou (New Jersey Marijuana Regulatory Commission incoming chair), residents are likely to start walking into recreational cannabis dispensaries and buy marijuana in 2022. However, she says that the current medical cannabis operators with retail infrastructure are likely to begin recreational weed sales earlier if they meet each patient's demands.
Dianna Houenou argues that the law allows these medical operators to serve the entire community relying on recreational marijuana. However, Dianna Houenou and many more state regulators need to decide the recreational weed products to allow in this state and the applicants that should get the licenses.
The recreational weed business community is more than prepared to start selling the products. As per Edmund DeVeaux (New Jersey Marijuana Business Association president), the recreational weed business community is prepared for the coming day.
As per the bills, six different sectors under the weed economy will get licenses. These sectors include delivery, retailers, distributors, wholesalers, manufacturers and cultivators. Also, the state will provide permits to ‘microbusinesses' consisting of 10 or fewer workers.
Recreational Marijuana Legalization Rules
Besides allowing those who are 21 years old and above to use recreational marijuana, the legislators also agreed to unfasten the punishment for minors found with cannabis and alcohol. Currently, underage drinking carries a penance of six months in prison and up to $1000.
However, the new legislation demands that the minor receive a written warning when found with cannabis and alcohol. Repeated offenses increase rapidly, ranging from community service referrals to parental notification.
Moreover, the new legislation does not allow towns to authorize fines to include more punishments for minors found with alcohol/cannabis or enact civil penalties laws.
In the cannabis sales case, New Jersey's latest 6.625% sales tax works on all transactions. Moreover, 70% of the tax proceeds will go to help individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis-related arrests. The new rules also allow towns to levy a tax that doesn't exceed 2%.
As of today, New Jersey remains to be the US state with the highest marijuana-related arrest numbers (over 300,000 marijuana-related arrests). Black residents have higher chances of facing marijuana-related charges. As per Murphy, the new rules aim to promote equity.
Murphy argues that the new legislation will create a marijuana market that promotes community-related economic and equity opportunities. He says that the new rules will establish minimum standards for safe weed products and allow law enforcement to direct their resources to public safety-related matters.
As per the Governor's office, the judiciary matters will no longer use previous minor cannabis offenses. The new rules will prevent the distribution of low-level marijuana products and parole decisions, probation and pretrial release from using cannabis possession offenses.
Moreover, the new legislation provides specific protections against employment discrimination, housing discrimination and public accommodation discrimination.
Cleanup Bill's Penalties
Any individual between 18 and 20 years old found with marijuana products in a public place, school, or motor vehicle will pay a fine ranging from $50 to $250.
Any individual between 18 and 20 years old found with marijuana/cannabis-s product in a public place, school or motor vehicle and consumed it knowingly will pay a fine ranging from $100 to $500.
However, any minor below 18 years old and found with marijuana/cannabis products will not incur the civil penalty. Instead, these minors will get a ‘stationhouse adjustment' or curbside warning, allowing a law enforcement agency to handle the violation without involving formal court proceedings.
The law enforcement agency will also demand these minors to participate in a treatment program or drug/alcohol abuse education program.
The new legislation allows the stationhouse adjustment to create one/more conditions that the involved minors need to meet to interchange the enforcement body that declines to handle the formal delinquency complaint.
While recreational cannabis/marijuana delays remained, the February 22, 2021 legislation inscription came as the last-ditch course of action to ensure Murphy's support and approval.
As per Shaya Brodchandel (Harmony Dispensary CEO), they have long promoted the adult-use marijuana effort in the Garden state and welcome the historic marijuana legislation.
He continues to argue that their primary goal now lies in ensuring the patient community remains safe and adequate marijuana supply exists for the Garden state's 100,000 medical marijuana patients.
So, what next? Enroll in one of the courses offered by Cannabis Training University and learn more about cannabis laws.