Municipal marijuana prosecutions on hold in NJ until September
TRENTON — New Jersey's attorney general has announced an immediate adjournment of all marijuana cases in municipal courts statewide until at least September.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal recently sent a letter to municipal prosecutors asking them to seek an adjournment until Sept. 4 — or later — of any matter "involving a marijuana-related offense pending in municipal court."
The letter said this would allow the attorney general's office time to develop "appropriate guidance" for prosecutors.
But it didn't say if arrests for marijuana possession would also be put on hold.
The letter comes after Grewal scolded the municipal prosecutor in Jersey City last week for announcing that municipal marijuana cases would not be prosecuted, effectively decriminalizing marijuana in the state's second largest city. Grewal had said that city prosecutors do not have the authority to do that.
“This is a huge win for Jersey City, the state of NJ, and most importantly the people who would have been impacted by the creation of a criminal record due to a simple marijuana arrest,” Mayor Steven Fulop said Tuesday. “We are excited that Attorney General Grewal and Jersey City found common ground, avoiding the collateral consequences of convictions for marijuana possession while our great state is on the cusp of legalization."
“I took the job as Chief Prosecutor in Jersey City to help build a progressive, proactive, and thoughtful prosecutors office. We want to make sure that Jersey City is at the forefront of these conversations and I’m proud to have pushed this issue from the onset,” Jersey City Chief Prosecutor Jake Hudnut said Tuesday in a prepared statement.
The attorney general's office did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment.
Civil liberties and business groups also applauded the development.
"Coupled with continued progress in the Legislature, there is renewed hope that legalization and expansion will occur sooner rather than later," New Jersey CannaBusiness Association President Scott Rudder said Tuesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey called this "a step forward for New Jersey that should bring us closer to reforming our marijuana laws and ultimately righting the wrongs of unjust marijuana enforcement."
“We must pump the brakes on marijuana arrests and prosecutions, and engage in a serious critical examination of how we handle the tens of thousands of marijuana arrests we make each year," ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha said.
“A single marijuana conviction can have devastating consequences, including fines, incarceration, job loss, and effects on housing and immigration status, affecting not just the individual, but also their families and communities."