The NJ Assembly passed two bills, 1897 and 4269 that
would decriminalize possession of
certain amounts of cannabis, while reducing penalties for what
would still be deemed to be an arrestable/convictable
The measures, which were introduced at the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee on Monday, passed by a 63-10 vote.
Per NJBIZ, a Senate version (Senate Bill 2535) was introduced on March 16 to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but has not moved since introduction.
There will still be work to do to reconcile the Assembly bills with Senate Bill 2535 which was introduced on June 4th and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee but much of the same language was used in both the Assembly and Senate versions.
One the key difference between the Senate and Assemble versions is the treatment regarding possession of up to a pound of marijuana. Yes, you read that right – a POUND.
Under the Senate bill, possession of up to a pound of cannabis will no longer be an arrestable offense, replacing it with a written warning for first offenses and a $25 civil penalty or community service for any afterward.
The Assembly bills instead call for a reduced penalty for possession of up to a pound and thereby lowers a first-time offense from 18 months to 6 months of imprisonment, and fines from $10,000 to $1,000. Any subsequent offenses would be met with the current level of punishment.
Possession of up to 2 oz. of cannabis, under current state law, has sentencing guidelines for up to 18 months in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
Under current law, possession of between 1 pound and 5 pounds is punishable with imprisonment between 3-5 years or fines up to $25,000, or both.
These bills come a few months before the upcoming 2020 presidential election, where voters will decide whether recreational marijuana should be legalized for adult-use. Currently, polling has support for legalization at 67% among NJ residents.
Duane Morris has a robust Cannabis Practice Group to assist clients in all facets of the cannabis arena including formation, licensing, fund raising, regulatory, real estate, and intellectual property. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team's webpage.
For Further Information:
If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Paul Josephson or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.
Be well and stay safe!
Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.