Members of the New Jersey Senate approved legislation that would end the practice of arresting adults in the Garden State for low-level marijuana offenses.
A1897 / S2535 would remove penalties for the possession of up to six ounces of marijuana and the distribution of up to one ounce of marijuana, making these activities punishable by a written warning on the first offense, and fine only for any subsequent offenses.
The bill also provides for “virtual expungement” relief which deems offenses that occurred prior to the bill’s effective date not to have occurred, without requiring an individual to petition the court; and removes the odor of marijuana as a reasonable suspicion for law enforcement to initiate a search of an individual.
A1897 / S2535 was approved by the Senate by a 29 to 4 vote. Assembly members delayed a scheduled vote on the identical measures due to concerns surrounding an unrelated provision that reduces the penalties for the possession of psilocybin.
New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved Public Question 1 on November 3rd, with 67 percent voting yes and only 33% voting no. Because Question 1 is a non-binding, legislatively referred ballot question, the New Jersey legislature must now take action to draft and implement enabling legislation in a manner that is in accordance with voters’ sentiments.
Separate legislation, A21 / S21, which would establish regulations for the production and retail sale of marijuana in the state, were stalled last week in committee so lawmakers can continue deliberations on the companion measures.