NJ & NY Marijuana Legalization News

Marijuana is likely going to be legalized soon in New Jersey.  Nothing is set in stone, and all we can do is watch.  Below you will find important legalization updates for both New Jersey and New York’s legalization efforts.  Until it is formally legalized, the simple possession of pot carries many penalties.  If you are caught with marijuana, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.

 

New York Marijuana Legalization Update, 5/22/18

Mayor de Blasio stated this week that the city must plan for the reality that marijuana will be most likely legalized in the near future.  This is in addition to his direction, discussed below, a week ago that the police review and amend their procedures and policies for arresting people for the possession of weed.

New Jersey Pot Legalization Update, 5/22/18

A bill was introduced last week to the legislature that would significantly expand NJ’s medical marijuana program.  Specifically, if passed, it will raise the amount of pot allowed to 2.5 ounces from 2 ounces; remove limitations on hospice care; permit edibles for minors; allow prescriptions for 180 days rather than 90; allow patients to go to any dispensary rather than just one; give legal protection against discrimination for marijuana using patients; remove doctor registration requirements so that more doctors can prescribe weed

*The borough of Manville has come out late last week with a zoning ordinance aimed at barring all sales of pot, both recreational and medical, within the towns borders.

 

New York Marijuana Legalization Update, 5/17/18

New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., stated this week that the Borough of Manhattan will essentially stop prosecuting marijuana possession cases starting on August 1st.  The reasons cited for this change are both the growing legalization movement and the racially disparate treatment of prosecutions for weed.  This step is in addition to the fact that pot was essentially decriminalized in NYC in 2014 by Mayor de Blasio, as well as his statement ordering the NYPD to review their policies for the enforcement of pot laws.  Presumably this new change is only going to be effective in Manhattan, although Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez says he is scaling back their pot possession prosecutions, and have already done so by half.

 

Update 5/14/18

Governor Murphy reportedly is considering “wide sweeping” pardons for marijuana convictions leading up to or after recreational legalization.  Whether he ultimately chooses to do so or whether he has the authority to pardon so many thousands of weed possession convictions remains to be seen.  If he does pardon such cases, current prosecutions may disappear and old convictions may be subject to immediate expungement.  

New York Marijuana Legalization Update, 5/14/18

The New York Post has reported that the NY Democratic Party has plans to pass a resolution endorsing marijuana recreational legalization.  A meeting is currently planned for May 23rd at which this proposal will be heard.  While this doesn’t necessarily mean pot will be legalized in NY, it does signal openness and hope that it soon will be, particularly if Gubernatorial nominees such as Cynthia Nixon who has committed to legalization are voted in.

 

Update 4/25/18

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, has stated that the State will be training more police officers as drug recognition examiners (DRE).  This seems to be relevant to the push to legalize pot in New Jersey, as it is feared that there will be an uptick in high driving.  New Jersey currently has about 400 DRE’s within the state who are trained in drug detection.

*Old Bridge Township has voted to ban the sale of marijuana if it does become legalized.

 

Update 4/16/18 - United States

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner has confirmed that President Trump told him that he will not be seeking federal enforcement of Marijuana laws on the State level.  This means that although Attorney General Sessions has taken away the protections given by the Cole memo, enacted under President Obama.  Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee has confirmed these statements.  It does not seem that pot will be legalized on a national level, but rather the federal government will not interfere with state’s which legalize, and may settle tax collection issues. 

 

Update 4/16/18 - New York

Candidate for Governor of New York, Cynthia Nixon, has publicly announced that a centerpiece of her election run will be on Marijuana Legalization.  Funnily enough, she has asked for donations in denominations of $4.20.  Governor Cuomo’s former anti cannabis position seems to have also eased, as he formed a panel to review legalization prospects.  He also just commented that due to legalization in Massachusetts earlier this year, it is inevitable that it will be legalized in New York.

 

3/28/18

Medical marijuana in NJ is being expanded.  So far five new conditions, anxiety, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders and visceral origin pain, migraines, and Tourette’s syndrome, now qualify for the program.  Additionally, dispensaries will now be allowed to open satellite locations as well as having their application process expedited.

3/26/18 - New Jersey Towns Banning Recreational Marijuana Sales

The following towns have embraced zoning laws / ordinances against legalization:  Manville (Somerset), Upper Freehold (Monmouth), Berkeley (Ocean County), Cranbury (Middlesex), Garfield (Bergen), Hasbrouck Heights (Bergen), Hazlet (Monmouth), North Caldwell (Essex), Point Pleasant (Ocean), Wall (Monmouth), Weehawken (Hudson).  Old Bridge (Middlesex) has finished the first half of their process to approve an ordinance blocking marijuana sales within their borders.  Spotswood (Middlesex) - A bill approved, although not an outright ban, significantly curtails the possibility of marijuana based businesses.  Importantly, however, these towns do not have the authority to disallow private use of marijuana if legalized, and only can ban the sale, manufacture, etc.

The following towns are awaiting votes or other action to determine whether or not they will follow suit with the formerly listed townships.  Chatham Township (Morris), Hawthorne (Passaic), Middletown (Monmouth), Oceanport (Monmouth), Parsippany-Troy Hills (Morris), Seaside Heights (Ocean), Toms River (Ocean), Fairfield (Essex).

The following towns appear to have come out in favor of legalization and presently are not anticipated to block marijuana sales.  Asbury Park (Monmouth), Jersey City (Hudson).  Jersey City may be changing their stance as they are expected this week to hear a measure to ban distribution, manufacture, etc., throughout the city.  Another measure is looking to simply contain these activities to areas where it will not affect residents.  

At present as Monmouth, Ocean, and Cape May counties are in opposition to any legalization bill at the state level and within their borders.  Within their borders it will be more up to individual towns to block pot sales, but the county does hold some sway.

 

3/16/18

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora’s bill calls for up to 400 dispensaries being permitted.  It also calls for a lower tax rate on legal pot sales in New Jersey.  This bill still would allow for home grown weed, permitting up to 6 plants, with 3 being mature or flowering at a single time.  Governor Murphey still plans to try to have marijuana legalized in NJ by January 1st, 2019.  Advocates are still trying to convince many of legalizations benefits.  One of the main blocks of opponents lay in law enforcement and DUI enforcement.  Police say that there are no good tests to test for marijuana intoxication like there are for alcohol, where chemical breath testing is readily available.  Even so, things are moving forward, and a legalization bill will likely go hand in hand with the upcoming budget deals.

 

Update 3/8/18

Immediate expungement of records of low level marijuana convictions is finally on the table!  Annette Quijano, a NJ State Assemblywoman this week introduced a bill that would allow for this, freeing from the stigma attached to having a drug conviction on their record.  If passed, this bill would make finding federal housing, obtaining student loans, finding employment, etc., far easier.  

 

Update 2/19/18

On Thursday, February 15th, NJ assemblyman Reed Gusciora, introduced a new bill to amend New Jersey’s medical marijuana program.  This is separate from the recreational legalization bill he has been advocating.  The new bill would allow for 12 more dispensaries, for a total of 18.  Currently there are only 6 throughout the State, and this has caused trouble for a lot of people to travel to them to get their medicine.  The bill also contemplates adding new 43 medical conditions that would be eligible for medical marijuana, one of which is chronic pain.  Other parts of the bill would quadruple the allowable amount of weed purchased from one (1) ounce, to 4 (4) ounces.  It would increase access to edible, oils and other marijuana products.  Currently only one of the 6 dispensaries sell anything more than raw marijuana to be smoked.  It would further allow doctors generally to prescribe the medicine rather than only allowing a few specific doctors to do so.  Obviously, this represents a huge increase to access to medical marijuana, particularly if recreational legalization fails.  Stay tuned.

Update 2/15/18

Toms River town council has voted to table a possible town ordinance that would ban the sale of pot.  This does not mean that this will not come into play later on, but it does show some more openness to the possibility of allowing recreational marijuana in the town.

Bridgewater Township, Councilman Matthew Moench, seems to be urging the town to preemptively ban legalized recreational marijuana. We’ll keep you up to date if his ill thought-out plan is ever successful. 

A lot of the arguments against the legalization of pot revolve around the supposed increased traffic accidents and DUI consequences.  These allegations that marijuana legalization increases DUI and Accidents have been repeatedly debunked.

Update 2/9/18

On March 5, the NJ Assembly’s committee on Oversight, Reform & Federal Relations will be having a meeting to hear the publics thoughts on cannabis legalization

News

Legal marijuana access is likely going to increase this year in New Jersey.  Weed legalization bills have passed the NJ legislature in past years, they were vetoed by former governor Chris Christie.  Our new Governor, Phil Murphy, states that he is unopposed to such changes in the law.  Currently the simple possession of pot carries many penalties.

Senate Bill No. 830, New Jersey’s latest marijuana legalization bill, was introduced to the Senate on January 9, 2018.  S830 (also the companion bill spoken about below A1348) allows people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of pot (28 grams), 16 ounces of solid edibles, 72 ounces of drinkables, 7 grams of marijuana concentrate and grow up to 6 plants with only three of them being mature at any one time.  The law does not allow for public open use.  The bill will deny employers, without good cause, for taking action against employees for their pot use outside the workplace.  Governor Phil Murphy has promised to sign marijuana legalization bills into law and so this version may be what is eventually signed into law.

Home grown provisions are newly introduced by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora.  Formerly the bills did not include a legal method by which NJ residents could grow their own weed in the comfort of their home.  

Much of the opposition comes from people believing legalization will lead to more DUI’s and Traffic Deaths.  According to various studies, marijuana legalization has not caused increased traffic accidents / deaths.

Many towns and counties are thinking of opting out of the legalization and not permitting distributors on their lands.  While it would still become decriminalized or fully legal to possess in these areas, sale of the pot might not be allowed.  Ocean County has thus far come out against legalization.  Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Litle, has seemingly even made the patently wrong assertion that because pot is a Schedule 1 drug, it must be more addictive cocaine, a Schedule 2 drug. Berkeley Township, Point Pleasant Beach, and Seaside Heights have so far decided they will not allow the sale of weed.  The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders have also come out publically against legalization in general, although there is not yet a specific plan to ban it if it becomes legal.

Asbury park and Jersey City have both come out in support of legalization.

 

New York Marijuana Legalization News

In February of 2017, Governor Cuomo stated that he is unconvinced on recreational marijuana.  He appears to be reconsidering that stance as of January 2018, after commenting on the fact that New York sits between both Vermont and Massachusetts who have already legalized, and New Jersey where legalization of recreational pot may soon be a reality.  Polls seem to indicate that a majority of voters, particularly young voters, support the legalization of weed.  

Governor Cuomo, in 2014, signed New York’s medical marijuana law.  

Marijuana Legalization in New York has taken interesting turns, here is an article going far more in-depth on the issue of lobbying, etc.

See above updates for more pot legalization news.

 

United States Marijuana Legalization News

In 2017, Senator Cory Booker proposed the Marijuana Justice Act.  If enacted, this would end the U.S. governments listing of pot as a Schedule 1 drug.  Schedule 1 drugs include certain other likely misclassified drugs such as LSDMDMA, and Psilocybin, as well as more harmful drugs like Bath Salts, Heroin, and GHB.  The bill also would incentivize legalization of weed in states whose drug laws disproportionately affect minorities (this would be most states).

Republican Senator Thom Tillis, a member of the senate judiciary committee along side Senator Booker, while cautious, seems to agree with Booker and will likely be pushing for legalization along with him.  While the bill seems unlikely to pass in the near term, given the Republican dominated legislature, it is something to keep an eye on in the future.

 See above for continuing news.

 

 

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