Jersey City, New Jersey – On November 25, 2020, the New Jersey Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal, issued a directive to municipal, county and state prosecutors directing them to request adjournments (postponements) of prosecutions for all marijuana possessory offenses that are not tied to other charges. The adjournments are for the purpose of allowing the legislature to take action in response to the citizens of New Jersey voting to legalize possession of marijuana. An adjournment will keep the cases on the court calendars without taking any action until at least Jan. 25, 2021. Prosecutors may also dismiss the charges without prejudice rather than request an adjournment. A dismissal would remove the charges from the court calendars, with the option of charges being refiled if the legislature’s actions require or allow prosecution of marijuana charges issued prior to the vote on election day or in between election day and legislative action. The vote, the AG’s memo, and the upcoming legislative action will not affect charges relating to distribution or possession with intent to distribute; those charges will continue to be prosecuted.
The complete list of charges subject to dismissal or adjournment is:
• possession of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(a)(3);
• possession of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(a)(4);
• being under the influence of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(c);
• failure to make lawful disposition of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(d);
• use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia under N.J.S. 2C:36-2 involving only marijuana or hashish;
• possession of a controlled dangerous substance while operating a motor vehicle in violation of N.J.S. 39:4-49.1 involving only marijuana or hashish;
• any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense subject to conditional discharge pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:36A-1 involving only marijuana or hashish.
Since New Jersey residents voted on November 3 to legalize marijuana, there have been over 1,600 new charges for marijuana possession. All those cases, as well as possession cases initiated before November 3 that have not been resolved, are included in the AG’s memo.
As soon as there is action by the legislature or additional action by the Attorney General, the Law Office of Eric M. Mark will post an update.