Colorado was the first state to legalize marijuana back in 2012. Since then, 16 other states, plus Washington, DC and Guam, have passed laws to make marijuana legal. New Jersey legalized marijuana in November 2020. Before November 2020, New Jersey only allowed marijuana use for medical reasons. While marijuana is still illegal under federal law, since 2012 states have been allowed to legalize marijuana without much interference from the federal government. As with most laws, some support it and some do not. But remember, just because marijuana is legal in New Jersey, that doesn’t mean everything about marijuana possession and use is legal. Take some time to learn about the rules and regulations related to marijuana laws in New Jersey.
Marijuana Legalization – Marijuana Laws in New Jersey
While marijuana was officially legalized in New Jersey during the November 2020 election, it took a few months for the details of the law to get ironed out. As of February 2021, recreational marijuana use and possession were legal. In addition, New Jersey also decriminalized certain situations involving marijuana. For example, in some instances, underage marijuana possession will no longer be classified as a criminal offense. Many factors come into play when determining if marijuana use or possession is legal or not. It all depends on factors such as amount, location of use, age, etc.
Here’s what is considered legal:
- Persons over 21 purchasing up to one ounce of marijuana from a licensed retailer or persons over 21 possessing up to six ounces of marijuana.
- Licensed retailers can sell customers up to an ounce of marijuana.
- Cultivating marijuana is legal in New Jersey, but to do so, you must have a Cannabis Cultivator License.
- Medical marijuana use is still legal. Patients must register with the state and are allowed to have up to 3 ounces of marijuana each month.
What is Still Against the Law Regarding Marijuana?
Just because New Jersey has passed a law to legalize marijuana doesn’t mean it is a free-for-all. There are many situations where marijuana is still illegal due to factors like the amount of marijuana or age of the user.
Here are some situations where marijuana use and/or possession is illegal in New Jersey:
- Marijuana use or possession by someone younger than 21.
- Purchasing marijuana exceeding one ounce or possessing marijuana exceeding six ounces. Possessing more than six ounces of marijuana is a fourth-degree crime.
- Smoking marijuana in places where tobacco is not allowed (ex: in a restaurant, store, gym, etc.).
- Possession or use of marijuana on elementary, middle, or high school campuses. This is a disorderly person’s offense that comes with penalties of fines and jail time.
- An unlicensed retailer cannot sell marijuana.
- A licensed retailer selling more than one ounce of marijuana. The penalties depend on the amount sold. For example, selling greater than one ounce but less than five pounds is a third-degree crime, and the consequences are up to $25,000 in fines and/or 18 months of jail time. Selling more than 25 pounds leads to penalties of up to $300,000 in fines and/or 10-20 years of jail time.
- If you don’t have a license, cultivating marijuana is illegal. The consequences are based on the number of plants grown.
In the November 2020 election, many New Jersey citizens supported legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana. In fact, 67% of voters supported legalization! Vox.com gives many reasons for why people support legalization:
- Decreased arrests.
- Decrease in racial disparity with arrests.
- Transitioning marijuana sales from the black market to the legal market.
- Marijuana sales are taxable, and the money can support various helpful programs.
Not everyone supports marijuana legalization. Vox.com dives into some of the reasons why some people feel marijuana should be illegal including:
- Danger of irresponsible marketing of marijuana.
- Potential for related health issues.
- Same issues will happen that have happened with the tobacco and alcohol industries.
Need An Attorney?
It can be challenging to keep up with the changing marijuana laws in New Jersey. If you find yourself in a situation where you have broken a marijuana law and are in legal trouble, contact an experienced attorney. Leon Matchin has worked on marijuana-related cases for years. He will study your case and see if there are ways to have the charges dropped or at least downgraded based on the new marijuana laws. Don’t face your charges alone! An attorney is crucial in guiding you every step of the way as you navigate your marijuana-related charge.
Marijuana is becoming increasingly legal throughout many states. Legalization has come a long way since the initial push in Colorado back in 2012. Many New Jersey residents celebrated in November 2020 after more than 67% of voters elected to make recreational use of marijuana legal. As of February 2021, residents over the age of 21 can now purchase up to one ounce of marijuana from a legal retailer. Residents over the age of 21 can also possess up to six ounces of marijuana.
There are still many circumstances where marijuana is illegal. These can include a minor being involved or marijuana being used/sold on school property. Proponents of this law see it as a step in the right direction. They cite things like a history of racial disparity in marijuana-related arrests and the rise of a dangerous marijuana black market as reasons why legalization is critical. Opponents, on the other hand, fear factors like adverse health effects and dangerous marketing tactics.
How an Attorney Can Help Guide You Through Updated Marijuana Laws in New Jersey
As you continue to learn more about the new marijuana laws in New Jersey, keep in mind that marijuana use/possession is not always legal. If you find yourself in a situation where you are facing a marijuana-related charge, it’s essential that you contact an attorney like Leon Matchin right away. An attorney can help you navigate marijuana laws in New Jersey. For more information about New Jersey attorney Leon Matchin and how he can help with marijuana charges, contact him right away by phone at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected].