Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued two documents to law enforcement describing the requirements of the new laws and providing enforcement guidance.
The first directive instructs state, county, and municipal prosecutors to dismiss charges pending as of February 22, 2021, for any marijuana offense that is no longer illegal under state law.
The second provides guidance to law enforcement officers regarding enforcement requirements, including new limits on marijuana and punishments for each offense.
From The NJ AG’s Site
Marijuana Decriminalization & Cannabis Legalization
On February 22, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed three bills changing the legal status of marijuana. These laws, which went into immediate effect, create a two-tier framework:
- Regulated cannabis. When the substance is bought, sold, and used under certain conditions, it is treated as “regulated cannabis” and fully legal in New Jersey. As a practical matter, however, regulated cannabis will not be available in the State for several months until a new government body, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, issues rules governing its use.
- Marijuana and hashish. All forms of the substance that are not regulated cannabis or medical cannabis are treated as “marijuana” or “hashish.” Under the new laws, marijuana and hashish are still defined as “controlled dangerous substances” under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-2 but are largely decriminalized for non-distribution offenses. The laws eliminate existing prohibitions and create new, more lenient penalties for possession and distribution that remain tiered based on weight.
Shortly after enactment, Attorney General Grewal issued two documents to law enforcement describing the new requirements and providing enforcement guidance:
- AG Directive 2021-1: Directive Governing Dismissals of Certain Pending Marijuana Charges (Feb. 22, 2021). This directive instructs state, county, and municipal prosecutors to dismiss charges pending as of February 22, 2021 for any marijuana offense that is no longer illegal under state law.
- Interim Guidance Regarding Marijuana Decriminalization (Feb. 22, 2021). This document provides guidance to law enforcement officers regarding new enforcement requirements pursuant to the marijuana decriminalization law.