Marijuana legalization has finally graced the garden state, as Governor Phil Murphy signed new laws last month making weed legal in NJ. According to the new legislation, NJ weed legalization would make it legal for adults aged 21 and older to consume weed recreationally and carry a certain amount for personal use.
Dubbed ‘the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act,’ covers consumer concerns like possession, recreational use, employment protection, and more.
Is Weed Legal in New Jersey?
Cutting to the chase, yes, weed is most definitely legal in the state of New Jersey now. You can carry under six ounces of marijuana and can also consume it on private property. So, is recreational weed legal finally? Although recreational use is now decriminalized, buying or selling recreational marijuana is still technically illegal. It is only after the state officials issue licenses to businesses that such operations can be carried out.
According to Dianna Houenou, chairperson of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, in all likelihood, you won’t see a recreational dispensary in NJ until 2022. Moreover, she also added that operators who already have a business infrastructure in place may get to start recreational sales earlier on. The state will be providing six types of licenses aimed at the different sectors of the weed industry, namely: cultivator, manufacturer, retailer, wholesaler, distributor, and delivery licenses.
The Silver Lining!
Until the state hands out licenses and sets up new regulations and guidelines in place, you can, in the meantime, carry less than 6 ounces of weed and about an ounce of hashish for personal use. Possession of cannabis & related paraphernalia and being under the influence of the substance while operating a vehicle are also decriminalized.
Moreover, you can also gift your friend – given he/she is over 21 years of age – up to an ounce of weed.
Social Justice FTW!
Murphy and several lawmakers also reiterated that their main driving force behind marijuana legalization in NJ was social justice and racial discrimination. According to a report, the number of black residents in NJ arrested for marijuana possession was 3.5 times higher than white denizens, despite the same consumption rates. Officials advocating the new law also wanted to ascertain that Latino and Black communities over-policed during the war on drugs get to benefit from the new framework of the legal marketplace.
Besides, cities and towns which were adversely affected by cannabis laws of the past and faced higher levels of law enforcement activity, poverty, and unemployment will be prioritized for the new licenses. 70% of the revenue generated from recreational New Jersey Cannabis legalization will be given to these ‘impact zones’ as loans, grants, and financial aid. The remaining 30% will be used to improve such towns & counties and train the New Jersey State Police.
What Does This Mean for Past Convictions?
The new law also applies to those currently in the criminal justice system because of a petty marijuana charge and people with past convictions. The cops are also no longer permitted to stop or search a person or their car using the smell of marijuana as a reason.
As for underage alcohol and marijuana possession, lawmakers were moved to pass a ‘clean up’ bill that permits police to notify the parents of an underage person caught with marijuana or alcohol.
What About Growing My Own Plants?
According to the new laws, ‘cultivation’ of cannabis plants requires a special license and is meant for commercial use only. So, no, you cannot grow plants at home for personal use.
More Power to the Landlords
The new law also states, “the smoking, vaping, or aerosolizing of marijuana or hashish may be prohibited or otherwise regulated on or in any property by the person or entity that owns or controls that property.” However, building owners cannot deny you the possession or consumption of cannabis edibles.
Does the Law Also Apply to Employment Protection?
While Employers can still maintain drug and alcohol-free workplace policies, employees, on the other hand, can indulge in medical marijuana use and recreational use off-hours.
What You Need to Watch Out For
Carrying more than 6 ounces of marijuana in New Jersey is still a fourth-degree crime and can result in up to an 18-month prison sentence. The distribution of large amounts of marijuana is also illegal under the new, New Jersey laws. Moreover, the distribution of 11 kg or more of marijuana and 2.2kg of hashish is a second-degree crime. While distributing a pound of marijuana of 5 grams of hashish or less is a third-degree offense.
However, the sale of small amounts of marijuana – usually an ounce or less – can carry a written warning for the first offense, and the second may result in a court summons on the charge of a fourth-degree crime.
While marijuana has been legalized and decriminalized in New Jersey, municipalities throughout the state can make their own decision on the matter. To elaborate further, such municipalities can not ban cannabis outright but can ban officials from regulating an industry there.
Moreover, adults will soon be able to enjoy their cannabis at weed cafes or, as the state law defines them, ‘consumption areas.’ Users will also be subject to pay a meager 6.625% sales tax on their purchases, while the local governments could add an extra 2% sales tax if they wish to.