New Jersey has a New Governor, May Have Legal Marijuana Soon
On Tuesday night, New Jersey voted new Democratic Governor Phil Murphy into the role currently filled by Republican Chris Christie. Among the many issues upon which these politicians disagree is the legalization of marijuana. While Christie has long-been a vocal opponent of legal marijuana in New Jersey, Murphy may be just the person New Jersey needed to pass a legal marijuana bill.
Over the course of his campaign, Murphy argued in favor of making marijuana legal for those over legal age to drink. In other words, if you are 21 or older and you can purchase and consume alcohol, you should be able to use recreational marijuana. Of his views on marijuana, Murphy said the following:
“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana…And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”
Some New Jersey lawmakers have been working to pass a bill legalizing marijuana for people 21 and older for quite some time. The current legislation, Bill S3195, is sponsored by Democratic State Senator Nicholas Scutari and is still being revised. According to NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney, his goal is to have the bill passed in Murphy’s first 100 days.
Murphy said he will sign a bill to pass legal marijuana when it arrives on his desk. So what does this mean for New Jersey residents? Here’s what you need to know about how marijuana laws may change in New Jersey.
The Shift in Perspective on Legal Marijuana
Bill S3195 marks a significant shift in direction as it relates to marijuana and law enforcement in New Jersey. In fact, the bill contains some striking statistics from 2012. Consider this:
- Law enforcement officers in NJ made over 24,000 arrests for marijuana possession (more than in the past 20 years);
- A person was arrested for possession of marijuana in NJ every 22 minutes;
- Arrests for marijuana possession accounted for 3 out of every 5 drug arrests in NJ
If the new bill is passed, police will redirect their efforts away from marijuana toward more serious and violent crimes. Under current law, the vast majority of marijuana cases involve small amounts of the drug (usually under 50 grams) and first-time offenders with no prior criminal record.
New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Bill S3195
According to Bill S3195, a variety of acts will no longer be considered criminal offenses in New Jersey for those age 21 or older.
Possession, use, purchase, or transportation: these acts will be legal as it relates to marijuana paraphernalia; 1 ounce or less of marijuana; 16 ounces or less of marijuana infused product in solid form; 72 ounces or less in liquid form; 7 grams or less of marijuana concentrate; and up to 6 immature marijuana plants subject to the provisions explained below.
Transfer: a person will be acting within the course of the law if he or she transfers 1 ounce or less of marijuana; 16 ounces or less of marijuana infused product in solid form; 72 ounces or less in liquid form; 7 grams or less of marijuana concentrate; and up to 6 immature plants, without a marijuana cultivation facility to a person who is of or over the legal age for purchasing marijuana items, provided that such transfer is for non-promotional, non-business purposes.
Consumption of marijuana items: it will be legal to consume marijuana products as long as you are not smoking marijuana or consuming marijuana items openly in a public place.
It will also be lawful to assist another person 21 or older in any of the acts described above.
Can I grow my own marijuana?
As it stands, Bill S3195 does not legalize personal cultivation of marijuana. In other words, a person cannot simply decide to begin growing marijuana for personal use or sale. In order to participate in cultivating, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, displaying, marijuana; delivering or transferring marijuana to a marijuana testing facility; or selling marijuana to a marijuana cultivation facility, a marijuana product manufacturing facility, or a marijuana retailer, a person must obtain a valid license to operate a marijuana cultivation facility or be conducting any of these activities as an owner, employee, or agent of a licensed marijuana cultivation facility.
After Governor Chris Christie completes his term at 12:00 pm on January 16th, the fate of legal marijuana in New Jersey may change. For what happens next, we will have to wait and see.
For additional information pertaining to this matter, access the following article: With Phil Murphy’s win, it’s ‘full steam ahead’ for legal marijuana