New Jersey Governor Signs Bill to Officially Legalize Recreational Marijuana

In November of last year, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution to allow the possession and use of marijuana for individuals age 21 and older. The amendment also permits the cultivation, processing, and sale of the substance. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill in February 2021, officially legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey. As we explain below, however, technically it still is not legal to purchase or sell recreational marijuana in New Jersey. 

Steps Required for Full Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

In order for recreational marijuana to become fully legal in New Jersey, state officials must take several steps. First, the New Jersey Legislature or Attorney General’s Office must enact legislation implementing the legalization of recreational marijuana. Next, New Jersey officials must establish rules and guidelines governing the legalization of marijuana. Finally, the state must award licenses to the businesses that will make up the new recreational marijuana market. Until these actions are taken, New Jersey’s marijuana laws remain the same. So, residents shouldn’t expect to be able to purchase recreational marijuana from a legal marijuana dispensary until sometime in 2022. 

Guidance from New Jersey’s Attorney General

Despite New Jersey’s legalization of recreational marijuana, several restrictions remain in place regarding possession and use of the drug. Due to widespread misunderstanding regarding the effect of the amendment on New Jersey’s current marijuana laws, the New Jersey Attorney General recently published guidance regarding the impact of the constitutional amendment. In addition to pointing out the need for enabling legislation before recreational marijuana is officially legalized, the Attorney General warned residents that the amendment does not legalize or decriminalize the sale or possession of unregulated (i.e., street) marijuana. 

Important Information About Recreational Marijuana in New Jersey 

Once the state takes the above steps and fully legalizes recreational marijuana in New Jersey, residents should be aware of the following:

  • Any pending cases involving possession of marijuana should be dismissed.
  • Prior convictions involving marijuana offenses should be expunged and not serve as a barrier to conditional dismissal or PTI, though the details are still somewhat murky in terms of how this will be implemented going forward.
  • Residents may possess 6 ounces or less of marijuana or about three-fifths of an ounce of hashish. 
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana or hashish remains a crime.
  • Residents may not grow their own marijuana or sell marijuana without a license. 

Contact Our Hackensack Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side. During your initial consultation, our New Jersey criminal defense lawyer will assess your situation and advise you of the best course of action to take in your criminal case. At Rosenblatt Law, we’ll treat you with respect while doing everything in our power to achieve a successful result in your criminal case. Please contact us today for a consultation.