Is Marijuana Legalization Coming to New Jersey?
It appears that the New Jersey legislature will propose a marijuana legalization bill before the end of the year. According to various media reports, New Jersey lawmakers are said to be ready to unveil the bills this fall. Senate President Stephen Sweeny states that a vote on the legalization of marijuana could come within the next several months.
Recently, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewel asked for all municipal prosecutors in the state to adjourn all pending marijuana matters until September. Lawmakers have cited social justice as well as an increase in tax revenue as the reasons for the legalization effort. Marijuana would be taxed at the state level but would also potentially be regulated by the local municipalities in which it is sold. The local municipalities would be permitted to enact ordinances to grant or limit the sale of marijuana within their respective towns. Lawmakers have expressed an interest in permitting individuals over the age of 21 years of age to use and possess marijuana in an amount of one ounce or less. Some have expressed an interest in enacting additional regulations for marijuana in liquid form or concentrate.
Possession of marijuana under 50 grams is presently a disorderly persons offense. This means that upon conviction an individual could face up to 6 months in jail, probation, fines, community service and a license suspension. Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana and or possession of marijuana with the intention to distribute can presently be charged as crimes under the state law in New Jersey. Individuals could potentially face years in state prison upon conviction. If marijuana is legalized and an individual distributes marijuana without a license, it is unclear what the potential penalty would be or if it will remain a serious criminal offense. It does appear likely that the legislature would amend the potential serious penalties that presently exist though.
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