Is marijuana legal in New Jersey? Well don’t go breaking out your bong in public just yet. Marijuana isn’t legal now but actually could be legal some time in the near future. The proposed bill is being spear-headed by Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union). If successful, the legislation would allow New Jersey to follow in the footsteps of states like Colorado and Washington and legalize the sale and possession of marijuana here. Proponents of the legislation have long time argued that allowing the state government to regulate the growth, possession and sale of recreational marijuana would dry up the illegal drug market, clean up street corners, while simultaneously providing a tremendous new source of tax revenue and also law enforcement to divert more resources to fighting more serious crime.
The proposed legislation is expected to be introduced within the next month. However, it will almost certainly face an uphill battle in the Statehouse. Scutari, who is also the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a sponsor of New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, acknowledged it is a “controversial issue,” but said his proposal is “the opening of a dialogue” with other state lawmakers and the Christie administration. Governor Christie has thus far vehemently opposed legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana and has continued to resist efforts to expand the state’s new medical marijuana laws. The details of the bill are a long way off and many things still have to be worked out, but the proposed system would be similar to the state’s medical marijuana laws, which requires licensed facilities to grow and sell the marijuana.
However, just because marijuana may be legal someday soon in New Jersey does not mean that police and prosecutors are going any easier of defendants found in possession of marijuana. Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony Kearns III, president of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey, said, “For the time being, marijuana is against the law and we will continue to do what we are required to do — follow the law and enforce the law”. While, South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka, the immediate past president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, said “In the past, we have been opposed to it completely. We are going to review his proposal but it’s pretty safe to say we’ll oppose that, too,”.
Make no mistake – Marijuana possession and distribution are serious criminal charges which carry stiff penalties including incarceration, probation, community service, and a permanent criminal record. If you have been arrested for marijuana possession or distribution, contact our office at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation to learn how our attorneys can help you.