NJ prosecutors told to hold off on pot possession cases into 2021
New Jersey is putting low-level marijuana possession cases on pause, as the state Attorney General has directed all prosecutors to at least delay such cases until late January.
The guidance issued Wednesday by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal also directs prosecutors at all levels — municipal, county and state — to use discretion in pursuing such cases at all, as state lawmakers continue to craft legislation on decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of regulated adult-use cannabis.
Legalizing recreational marijuana passed easily on the November ballot around the Garden State.
“It simply does not make sense or serve justice to proceed with prosecutions on charges that may be foreclosed soon through legislative action," Grewal said in his written statement, while noting the delay in prosecuting cases does not apply to charges associated with drug dealing — distribution of marijuana or possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
The seven charges covered by Wednesday's directive to delay cases include any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense involving only marijuana or hashish.
Grewal said that more comprehensive guidance, including direction on handling cases of possession already in the court system, will follow when the state Legislature acts.
State lawmakers did hit an impasse last week, after Senate and Assembly committees endorsed marijuana legalization bills, with a few key differences.
The Senate then canceled its voting session, which had been set for this past Monday, as legislators struggle to reach agreement on several issues, including how to apply a social equity tax planned for NJ recreational pot sales.
With previous reporting by Michael Symons