New Jersey: Assembly Advances Bill Decriminalizing Possession of Up to Two Ounces of Marijuana

Trenton, NJ: Members of the state Assembly voted 63 to 10 last week in favor of an amended version of A1897, which decriminalizes activities involving up to two ounces of marijuana.

Under current law, marijuana possession offenders may receive up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The Assembly-backed measure makes activities involving the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis a $50 fine – no arrest and no criminal record.

Annually, police make over 30,000 marijuana-related arrests in New Jersey. That total is among the highest of any state in the nation.

The legislation now moves to the state Senate for further consideration. A more expansive marijuana reform bill, S2535, is also pending in the Senate. That measure bars police searches based solely upon the odor of marijuana, allows those on probation or parole to use cannabis without it impacting their release, and directs New Jersey courts to develop a system to seal past records, among other changes.

In November, New Jersey voters will decide on a statewide ballot measure that reads: “Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis’? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.” Polling data compiled in April by Monmouth University reported that 61 percent of New Jersey voters intend to vote ‘yes’ on the measure.

For more information, contact Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator.