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Understanding New Jersey’s new marijuana laws

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

As more and more states legalize recreational marijuana, as New Jersey did this February, it can be confusing to know just what is and isn’t legal when it comes to buying, selling, growing and using the drug.  

The legalization, which was approved by New Jersey voters by a 2-to-1 margin last November, still comes with a number of restrictions. Further, the state doesn’t currently have any licensed dispensaries.

Age limits on recreational marijuana in New Jersey

First, marijuana is legal for use only by those who are at least 21. Those under 21 who are caught with the drug will receive a written warning. If a person receives three written warnings, law enforcement notifies their parents or guardians.

What marijuana-related activities are still illegal?

There are still limits on how much a person can have in their possession, sell or distribute. For example:

  • Possessing over 6 ounces of marijuana or 17 grams of hashish is considered a fourth-degree crime.
  • A second time being caught selling even an ounce or less is also a fourth-degree crime. (A first offense carries a written warning.)
  • Distributing a pound or more of marijuana or .17 ounces of hashish is a third-degree crime.
  • Distributing 25 pounds or more of marijuana or over 5 pounds of hashish is a first-degree crime.

It should be noted that growing marijuana is still illegal. 

What is no longer illegal where marijuana is concerned?

It’s not illegal for someone 21 or older to have 6 ounces or less of marijuana or 17 grams of hashish. It’s also no longer illegal to have marijuana paraphernalia. It’s not illegal to be under the influence unless you’re operating a motor vehicle.

What about people who were already convicted of marijuana crimes?

The state’s Administrative Office of the Courts is vacating any guilty pleas, verdicts and diversionary program placements, supervision and unpaid court fees for offenses that have been decriminalized. Prosecutors are required to dismiss any cases that were pending at the time the new law took effect (Feb. 22, 2021).

It’s important to understand what is and isn’t legal regarding marijuana and the potential penalties you could face if you’re arrested for violating the law. If you believe that a previous conviction should be vacated, it’s essential to understand your legal rights.