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  • James R. Wronko

Will New Jersey Legalize Marijuana?

New Jersey lawmakers just announced that they had ended their latest effort to have the Legislature pass a bill that would make marijuana legal in New Jersey and will instead allow the voters to decide the question in a election next November.

The Legislature still needs to approve the referendum. To place the question on the ballot as a constitutional amendment, both the state Senate and Assembly have to approve it by either three-fifths majority in one year or by simple majorities in consecutive years. If they decide to seek simple majorities in consecutive years or if they elect to go for simple majorities, the votes would have to occur before January 1st, of this year.

“This initiative will bring cannabis out of the underground so that it can be controlled to ensure a safe product, strictly regulated to limit use to adults and have sales subjected to the sales tax,” Senators Stephen Sweeney and Nicholas Scutari said in a joint statement.

“My belief that our current marijuana laws have failed every test of social justice and that the right course is to legalize its use by adults has not changed," the governor, Phil Murphy said in a statement.

The politicians also stressed that it’s critical to reduce the number of marijuana arrests. FBI data shows police in New Jersey arrest more people for marijuana possession than every state except Texas and New York. In addition, African-Americans are arrested for marijuana possession at a rate that’s three times higher than Caucasians, despite similar usage rates between the groups, as reported by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.

WLB has not seen a dramatic reduction in marijuana arrests as a result of all these attempts to legalize cannabis.

The penalties for possession or using marijuana can range from a limited period of probation (conditional discharge) for a year, with drug testing, to six months in a county jail.

In addition, your driver licenses can be suspended for 6 to 12 months for simply possessing it, whether or not you are in a motor vehicle . Distribution penalties can range from 18 months in New Jersey State Prison to 10 years in State Prison.

Here at Wronko Loewen Benucci, we have attorneys who are experienced in handling and defending clients in cases involving possession and distribution of marijuana and cannabis or THC oil. Contact our office for a free consultation.

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