Decriminalization Versus Legalization In New Jersey: What’s Coming
We’ve previously written about how close New Jersey is to not only decriminalizing marijuana, but potentially legalizing its recreational use. Come January, new political leadership in New Jersey is reportedly poised to move on legalization right away, making New Jersey the largest state in the East to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
While New Jersey already allows for the medical use of marijuana, this move would allow stores to start selling it for recreational use starting in July of 2018.
Hurdles to New Jersey’s Legalization of Marijuana
Until then, however, there are still hurdles the state will need to clear: tax rates, license enforcement, revenue collection, and what to put the new tax revenue towards (whether that involves reducing homelessness, combating the opioid addiction crisis, boosting other public health programs, or doing something else with the revenue).
New Jersey Decriminalization Legislation Already Introduced
In addition, there is a chance that a bill introduced by Senator Scutari (in May) could pass in the meantime. This legislation would instantly decriminalize the possession of up to 50 grams of marijuana, limit fines to $100, and transfer the authority to regulate grower and seller licensed to the Department of Law and Public Safety. It would ultimately allow New Jerseyans age 21 and over to carry, consume, and/or transport up to one ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces or less of a marijuana-infused product, 72 ounces or less of liquid pot, or seven grams of concentrated marijuana. They could also harvest up to six marijuana plants at home.
Consumers would start out paying a seven percent tax on sales which would slowly increase to 25 percent after several years. However, it is also important to note that towns would have the option of opting out of the legalization and restricting dispensaries, pursuant to this legislation.
If passed, this would have a significant effect on arrests in New Jersey: In 2013 alone, there were more than 24,000 marijuana-related arrests, where African-Americans were three times as likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana compared to Caucasians.
It is also important to note that Deputy State Assembly Majority Leader Reed Gusciora reportedly plans to introduce a competing marijuana bill in mid-late December which would adjust the phase-in time from one to two years and limit the number of dispensaries to one per district for the first two years of the program (with two per district by the third year).
New Jersey Drug Crimes Defense Attorney
To date, New Jersey is still arresting people for possession of marijuana and charging them.
If you have been accused of possession or sale of marijuana in New Jersey, speak with our experienced drug crime defense attorney Phillip J. Murphy right away. We have been serving clients in and around Bergen County for more than 25 years. Contact us today for a free consultation.