The 2021 New Jersey Marijuana Legalization
On February 22, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed a series of cannabis reform bills into law. The legislation legalizes recreational cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years old and older. It decriminalizes certain marijuana offenses and changed the penalties from criminal to civil fines.
The action has received mixed reactions. While some appreciate the newly-created employment opportunities in the marijuana industries, others argue that the new law has allowed children to smoke pot and drink alcohol. However, people who have been incarcerated for marijuana offenses will now be free to pursue higher education, address child custody issues, and gain employment. The Administrative Office of the Courts will also begin vacating convictions for marijuana offenses including people’s participation in diversionary programs such as Pretrial Intervention (PTI) and Conditional Discharge (CD).
Consult aNew Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer to defend your rights. Here is more information about your rights in the new law:
What has changed in the recent legalization?
Before the new legislation was signed into law, police officers made numerous arrests and filed more than two thousand charges for marijuana offenses, most of which have been minor offenses.
The new law allows New Jersey residents to carry up to six ounces of marijuana without being arrested like they would have been in the past. Communities that have been targeted in the past can now get a breathing space in New Jersey. Therefore, rights are protected more than before.
You are also protected — as an individual — by this law. A police officer is not allowed to stop you on the basis that they have smelled burnt or unburned marijuana. Additionally, they must have cameras turned on during an interaction with a young person.
What are the guidelines for underage possessions?
The new law legalized the use of marijuana for adults and also included a penalty guideline for young people found in possession of cannabis. Young people will now receive a written warning the first time they are found in possession of cannabis and another warning, which will be sent to one of their parents if they are caught a second time.
If they continue to possess or use the substance, the law allows a police officer to refer the underage individual to a community program, which may include drug treatment and education courses. No police officer will arrest a young person without issuing a warning first, according to the novel legislation.
The legislation also prohibits municipal governments from enacting ordinances with civil penalties or fines against underage individuals found in possession or caught using cannabis on private property.
Will you still be punished for driving while intoxicated?
Drivers found operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis, however, could face penalties. According to the2019 New Jersey revised statutes, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated with liquor, hallucinogenic, narcotic, or habit-producing drugs. You will also be liable if you let another person drive under the influence of these drugs, regardless of whether that drug is legalized or not.
The penalties for these offenses include fines, imprisonment, license suspension, community services, and an ignition interlock device for a while. You still have rights despite being in the wrong.
Work with The Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC
As discussed above, even when you are in the wrong, you still have rights. The advocate at The Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC will ensure that:
- Your constitutional rights are not violated.
- The prosecutor provides all required evidence.
- Proper procedures are followed before and during the trial.
The criminal justice system is complicated. That is why you need an experienced lawyer to work with you, especially after New Jersey Marijuana Legalization in 2021. The attorney has fought for clients’ rights since 1995. Request a consultation online today or call the office at 856-245-5904.