New Jersey AG Issues Guidance On Low-Level Cannabis Possession Cases

Less than a month after New Jersey residents voted to legalize adult-use cannabis, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has issued guidance regarding the prosecution of low-level cannabis possession cases.

The new guidance builds upon guidance that Grewal previously released on August 29, 2018, and November 4, 2020.

Grewal also wrote to state prosecutors in July of 2018, asking them to suspend cannabis cases for several weeks.

The November 4 guidance reminded law enforcement that they have broad discretion in the handling of low-level cannabis offenses, urging them to use their best judgment in light of the current legal state of cannabis in New Jersey.

In the new guidance, Grewal directs municipal, county, and state prosecutors to adjourn until January 25, 2021, all juvenile and adult cases that solely involve certain cannabis possession related offenses.

Grewal’s new guidance suspends prosecution of cases involving possession, intent to use, or being under the influence of cannabis, including instances involving a motor vehicle and disorderly persons offenses.

For cases that involve other offenses, prosecutors are to use discretion by either postponing them entirely or seek dismissal, without prejudice, of the cannabis charges and prosecute the remaining charges.

“Fairness demands that we suspend prosecution of marijuana possession-related cases while we await direction from the Legislature on the parameters for decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of regulated adult-use cannabis,” says Grewal. “It simply does not make sense or serve justice to proceed with prosecutions on charges that may be foreclosed soon through legislative action.”

The guidance, states Grewal, does not create any substantive rights that a third party can enforce and does not affect the prosecution of cannabis distribution cases, including cases of possession with intent to distribute.

Grewal says that there will be more comprehensive guidance when the Legislature can provide details of the framework for cannabis decriminalization and adult-use legalization.

One Response

  1. Russ Palmer December 2, 2020