The New Jersey court system has expunged more than 362,000 marijuana and hashish cases since the state’s new decriminalization laws took effect on July 1. Now, officials are trying to alert people who benefitted from the automatic expungement.
The New Jersey Courts launched an awareness campaign last week to notify people if they had prior convictions for low-level offenses involving marijuana or hashish that those convictions were wiped from their records.
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Once a case has been expunged, a person no longer needs to disclose their former conviction on applications for jobs, housing, or educational programs.
The awareness campaign promoting the expungement process, which includes billboards, radio and bus ads, is required by the laws signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in February. Possession of six ounces or less of marijuana and using it on private property is now legal in New Jersey for people ages 21 and up.
Court officials said the campaign is designed to reach anyone convicted of:
- distribution of marijuana less than 1 ounce or hashish less than 5 grams,
- possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, or more than 5 grams of hashish,
- possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana, or 5 grams or less of hashish.
If any of the cases included a charge of possession of paraphernalia, use, or being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, or failure to make a lawful disposition of controlled dangerous substance, those records were expunged as well.
The records go back years, if not decades, according to Judge Glenn Grant, acting administrative director of the New Jersey Courts. He said the court would not be contacting people directly and that publishing the names of people whose records were expunged would be problematic.