On November 3, 2020, residents of the State of New Jersey voted in an overwhelming majority to legalize recreational marijuana. However, the legislative process has been delayed due to arguments between state legislators regarding how to best implement the changes to state law. A final vote on implementation is set to be heard in Trenton on December 17, 2020.
On November 4, 2020, the Attorney General of New Jersey, Gurbir S. Grewal, released a statement reminding New Jersey residents that, “[a]ll of the State’s criminal laws relating to marijuana continue to apply until, among other things, the Legislature enacts a law creating [a] regulatory scheme for legal cannabis.”  Then on November 25, 2020, Attorney General Grewal provided additional guidance to state prosecutors concerning the prosecution of low-level marijuana cases. The Attorney General directed “all New Jersey municipal, county, and state prosecutors to adjourn, until at least January 25, 20201, any juvenile or adult case solely involving” particular low-level marijuana crimes. Notably absent from this directive is guidance regarding the prosecution of cases charging the distribution of marijuana or possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
In his November 25, 2020 guidance, the Attorney General assured residents that “more comprehensive guidance, including direction on handling previously adjudicated matters, will follow when the Legislature provides details of the framework for marijuana decriminalization and the legislation of adult-use cannabis.”
At this point, there is no effective date for when possession of marijuana will be decriminalized in New Jersey. What does all of this mean for you? In short, the police can arrest you and prosecutors have the option to charge you for low-level marijuana related offenses, at their discretion, in New Jersey. Distribution or possession with the intent to distribute are still being prosecuted and are not being postponed, according to the Attorney General’s latest guidance.
The good news is, if you already made a mistake and have a marijuana-related arrest on your record, you may be able to have that criminal history expunged. Expungement is the legal process by which your criminal record is sealed, with few exceptions. Expungement of your criminal record is beneficial for job applications, federal funding such as loans and grants, housing applications, or any other situation where someone will be conducting a background check.
Do you have a marijuana arrest or charge on your record? Contact the Hunnell Law Group for a free case assessment today to determine whether you are eligible for an expungement!
Written by Caitlin Holland, Esq.