The New Jersey attorney general on Wednesday told prosecutors to adjourn most marijuana possession cases until at least January 25, 2021 following voter approval of a referendum to legalize cannabis for adult use this month.
While the initiative amends the state Constitution to legalize marijuana for those 21 and older, lawmakers must still pass enabling legislation to create a regulatory framework for cannabis sales. The day after the election, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) had issued initial guidance to prosecutors encouraging them to use discretion when it comes to marijuana offenses that will soon be codified as legal.
But this latest announcement expands on that memo, ordering prosecutors to pause cases involving a wide range of low-level cannabis possession offenses.
“Fairness demands that we suspend prosecution of marijuana possession-related cases while we await direction from the Legislature on the parameters for decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of regulated adult-use cannabis,” Grewal said. “It simply does not make sense or serve justice to proceed with prosecutions on charges that may be foreclosed soon through legislative action.”
The attorney general’s office listed seven specific laws that will be impacted by the temporary policy change, including those penalizing possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis and being under the influence of marijuana.
“Notably, today’s guidance does not affect the prosecution of cases charging distribution of marijuana or possession of marijuana with intent to distribute,” a press release from his office says.