In November 2020, New Jersey residents voted to legalize marijuana. Despite the vote, it wasn’t until February 2021 that Governor Murphy signed into law the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Prior to 2021, medical marijuana was legal, but recreational marijuana was not. This meant that patients prescribed marijuana for medical reasons could use/possess it, but others could not. Marijuana use is still illegal under federal law, but currently, 16 states, plus Washington DC and Guam, have legalized marijuana.
As residents begin to navigate the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey, it is important that they understand the nuances of the laws. Not all marijuana use is legal; in fact, marijuana possession is only permitted up to a certain amount and can only be purchased at licensed retailers. Additionally, driving under the influence of marijuana is never legal. Take some time to learn about the ins and outs of marijuana laws in New Jersey.
New Laws for Marijuana in New Jersey
When it comes to recreational marijuana use, the laws are brand-new in New Jersey. As residents navigate the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, they often find it challenging to understand what exactly is legal and what is not. In addition to the legalization of marijuana, New Jersey has also decriminalized certain aspects of marijuana use, such as underage possession no longer being considered a criminal offense.
Here is what’s legal in New Jersey
- People over the age of 21 can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana from a licensed retailer.
- People over the age of 21 can possess up to six ounces of marijuana.
- Medical marijuana use is legal.
- Also, medical marijuana patients must register with the state.
- Medical marijuana patients can have up to three ounces of marijuana each month.
- Retailers can sell up to one ounce of marijuana to customers over the age of 21 as long as they are licensed.
- Obtaining a Cannabis Cultivator License allows the cultivation of marijuana in New Jersey.
- You can possess marijuana while driving a car, but you cannot drive while under the influence.
What’s Not Legal?
Be careful – not everything related to marijuana use is legal. Just because recreational marijuana was recently legalized and decriminalized doesn’t mean you can use, possess, and/or grow as much as you want. Read on to understand what is illegal when it comes to marijuana use:
- Those under the age of 21 cannot use or possess marijuana.
- Medical marijuana patients cannot cultivate their own marijuana.
- Adults over the age of 21 cannot possess more than six ounces of marijuana.
- Adults over the age of 21 cannot purchase more than one ounce of marijuana.
- Smoking marijuana is illegal anywhere that smoking tobacco is illegal (ex: inside a restaurant, inside a store, etc.).
- You cannot possess or use marijuana on school property.
- Unlicensed retailers cannot sell marijuana to customers.
- Cultivating marijuana without a license is illegal.
- Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal.
Consequences for Illegal Marijuana Use
One of the most significant updates to the marijuana laws in New Jersey is decriminalizing possession and marijuana use for those under the age of 21. Instead of getting a criminal charge, those under 21 will get a written warning. Get a second offense? You’ll get another written warning and education about community services. For subsequent offenses, you will face referral to the community support programs. An additional consequence for those under the age of 18 is that parents will be notified.
New Jersey law statute 2C § 35-5 lists out various other implications of marijuana use. Each consequence is based on the amount of marijuana possessed. Some of the punishments are quite hefty. For example, possessing marijuana in the amount of 25 pounds or more is a first-degree crime that comes with fines up to $300,000.
Marijuana in New Jersey and Why You Might Need an Attorney
Just because recreational marijuana use is now legal doesn’t mean you can’t end up breaking the law regarding use and possession. If you face charges of possessing over six ounces of marijuana or driving under the influence of marijuana, you will need a good attorney on your side to defend you in court. As the judges and courts are still learning all the new laws, it’s essential to have an experienced lawyer by your side to provide a defense. Leon Matchin has worked with clients charged with marijuana-related crimes for years. His research on the new marijuana laws is entirely up-to-date on what is now legal and what is still illegal.
The idea behind legalizing/decriminalizing marijuana is twofold. First, it will cut way back on the number of marijuana charges/cases each year. The legalization allows police and the courts to focus on larger, more significant crimes. Second, the legal buying and selling of marijuana in the state will be beneficial for the economy. Due to licensing, regulation, and setting up the recreational industry, it may be months before the average person can buy marijuana in New Jersey. Even so, the law passed, and those without medical prescriptions can access marijuana.
If you or a loved one are confused about the new marijuana laws or are in a situation where marijuana is still illegal, give an attorney a call. An experienced attorney like Leon Matchin can help you to understand the new marijuana in New Jersey laws and what your options are. Contact Leon Matchin by phone at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected]. He will set up a free, no-obligation consultation to review your case and go over your options.