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NJ Marijuana Law: AG End Cannabis Prosecutions Through September

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has asked municipal prosecutors to seek an adjournment involving NJ marijuana law offenses pending to end cannabis prosecutions.

In a letter, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal wrote that he was asking “that all municipal prosecutors in New Jersey seek an adjournment. Until September 4, 2018, or later, of any matter involving a marijuana-related offense pending in municipal court” while developing “appropriate guidance” for prosecutors to end cannabis prosecutions.

NJ Marijuana Law Enforcement Changing

Although Governor Murphy campaigned on legalizing cannabis for adult-use, the law has not yet changed. However, the medical marijuana program has doubled since Murphy took office.

Last week, Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City announced he would be issuing guidance to his police officers and prosecutors. He wanted to end cannabis prosecutions in the city. This was a significant change to NJ marijuana law enforcement. Today, State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a memo to municipal prosecutors. It called for the end of marijuana prosecutions in New Jersey.

Boom! very excited about the announcement coming today from the Attorney General on marijuana arrests statewide. I’m proud JerseyCity pushed this policy + we stood our ground as the right side of the issue. We are lucky to have in NJ a thoughtful and problem solving AG. Forward!

— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) July 24, 2018

This comes after Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Chief Prosecutor Hudnut declared cannabis basically decriminalized in Jersey City.

Sadly #newjersey residents of color r 3x more likely 2 be arrested/prosecuted for #marijuana despite similar cross-racial usage. These cases r costly & distract prosecutors from pursuing violent offenses. Tomorrow that ends in #JerseyCity ⚖️? #progress #fairshake @StevenFulop https://t.co/kkX8qx6Pzp

— Jake Hudnut (@JakeHudnut) July 18, 2018

We changed our municipal prosecutors office + we wanted to be more proactive/thoughtful in how we deal with issues before our court. We’ll be the 1st in #NewJersey here + this is the right proactive approach. #JerseyCity @JakeHudnut @AmolSinha @ACLUNJ https://t.co/TXOYDvx4kU

— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) July 18, 2018

Heady NJ questioned why Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Governor Murphy didn’t support Jersey City’s ending cannabis prosecutions. It makes sense while they are working toward legalization.

Why isn’t the @GovMurphy administration supporting this? They should be supporting this statewide until legalization happens. Should have been the first thing they did when getting into office. https://t.co/MCoLPzdew1

— Heady NJ (@Heady_NJ) July 23, 2018

Ending Cannabis Prosecutions

Grewal sent a letter to Hudnut stating that he did not have the legal authority to take such an action. It was sent one day after the City of Jersey City had enacted a policy to decriminalize marijuana. Therefore the policy was “void.” Thus while Hudnut sought to end cannabis prosecutions, Grewal did not allow him to do so.

Jersey City undoubtedly has prosecution discretion + the ability to implement that. We aren’t changing law but we’ll continue a support our Chief Prosecutor’s judgment which we outlined in decrim policy we’ll follow. We respect the letter but don’t agree. JC = right side here https://t.co/wF4oe6I4Or

— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) July 20, 2018

However, Grewal’s office met with Hudnut and other public safety officials from Jersey City yesterday in hopes of finding a middle ground.

The AG’s office will convene a steering committee to address marijuana and ending cannabis prosecutions in the future. It’s also expected that the state legislature and governor will legalize cannabis by September. That is the date referenced by Grewal in the memo issued to the municipal prosecutors.

“I took the job as Chief Prosecutor in Jersey City to help build a progressive, proactive, and thoughtful prosecutor’s office. We want to make sure that Jersey City is at the forefront of these conversations. I’m proud to have pushed this issue from the onset,” Hudnut said.

In 2016, approximately 36,000 people were arrested in New Jersey for cannabis. 32,000 were for simple possession, non-violent offenses.

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