Prosecutors in New Jersey cannot unilaterally decriminalize marijuana
possession in their jurisdictions, the state attorney general
announced Wednesday, but they are being encouraged to use their
discretion with people charged with low-level cannabis crimes.
State Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal issued a guidance memo to the
Garden State's prosecutors, asking them to carefully consider the
repercussions of a marijuana conviction on the lives of people charged
with simple possession.
He asked prosecutors to weigh the "collateral consequences" a
conviction might have on a defendant's ability to find work, remain in
school, and receive government loans, housing, and licensing. Grewal
also requested prosecutors to take into account age, circumstances of
arrest, immigration consequences, and adverse familial
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JERSEY CITY - Every city in America knows that it's a bad idea to
prosecute low-level, nonviolent marijuana offenses. It wastes scarce
municipal resources and does nothing to enhance public safety. What's
more, even though whites and blacks use marijuana at similar rates,
blacks are more harshly punished for it.
That's why, on July 19, marijuana offenses were effectively
decriminalized in Jersey City, New Jersey's second most populous city.
Prosecutors treated every marijuana case that day as a violation
instead of a misdemeanor, unless driving under the influence was
involved. We told our prosecutors to ask for no more than a $50 fine,
or just five hours of community service if the defendant couldn't pay
that fee. Instances like the absence of any public nuisance or a low
likelihood of re-offense would warrant outright dismissal. We also
stressed the importance of diverting people with an obvious drug
addiction toward social services.
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Jersey City's mayor is planting himself at the forefront of a national
movement to stop destroying people's lives for having a little marijuana.
Steven Fulop is firmly on the right side of this issue, and Gov. Phil
Murphy's attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, is not fighting him on it --
once again demonstrating that he is not just concerned with law and
order, but justice.
Grewal has been receptive to reform efforts in general, creating a
statewide team to investigate wrongful convictions, for instance,
after a bungled murder case in Passaic County.
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New Jersey's attorney general has announced an immediate adjournment
of all marijuana cases in municipal courts statewide until at least
The decision was included in a letter state Attorney General Gurbir
Grewal sent Tuesday to municipal prosecutors in the state. It asked
them to seek an adjournment until September 4 -- or later -- of any
matter "involving a marijuana-related offense pending in municipal
court," a move that will allow the attorney general's office time to
develop "appropriate guidance" for prosecutors.
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Chris Alexander, policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance,
advocates for marijuana legislation at the state Capitol in Albany,
New York. Supporters say the bill would promote social justice and
State lawmakers and advocates pushing to legalize marijuana this year
aren't just touting legalization as a way to raise tax revenue and
regulate an underground pot market. They're also talking about fixing
a broken criminal justice system and reinvesting in poor and minority
communities that have been battered by decades of the government's war
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SECAUCUS, N.J. - Tucked inside a nondescript commercial warehouse here
sits a sophisticated marijuana-growing operation. A custom filtration
system feeds a proprietary cocktail of nutrients into a hydroponic,
two-level farming system. Two pallets of crops are harvested every
day, and the 15,000 square feet will eventually yield two tons of
marijuana per year.
And it's all legal.
Opened just a few weeks ago, Harmony Dispensary is the latest site in
New Jersey to provide marijuana for medical use, a program that has
expanded greatly since Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, was sworn
in. More than 10,000 patients have enrolled since he took office in
January, bringing the total to about 25,000. And on Monday, Mr.
Murphy's office announced it was seeking up to six new applicants for
medicinal marijuana dispensaries.
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Gov. Murphy greatly expanded New Jersey's medical marijuana program
Tuesday, opening the door to tens of thousands of new patients and
allowing the five dispensaries spread across the state to add
satellite retail centers and cultivation facilities.
The governor added to the list of ailments that qualify for a cannabis
prescription. He also cleared the way for any doctor in the state to
prescribe cannabis, ending a system in which only those physicians who
registered -- and thus, joined a publicly available list of providers
- -- could do so. He said some doctors had been reluctant to participate
in the program because they viewed joining the list as a stigma.
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Doctors would decide which patients should use marijuana as medicine
instead of being limited by a narrow list of eligible diseases set by
law, under a sweeping medical marijuana overhaul approved by a state
Assembly panel Thursday.
The measure that cleared the Assembly Health Committee would also
allow registered patients to buy up to four ounces of cannabis, or
twice as much as they are permitted to obtain now.
The dispensaries and cultivators would be divided evenly in the
northern, central and southern regions of the state, including the six
who are already licensed to grow and sell.
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TRENTON -- The first New Jersey legislative hearing on the
legalization of marijuana held since Gov. Murphy took office -- after
he promised his support -- unfolded Monday before more than 100 people.
More than a dozen experts traveled from as far as Colorado and
Massachusetts to office advice on legalization, a topic gaining
traction after Murphy, a Democrat, replaced Gov. Chris Christie, a
Republican adamantly opposed to it, in January.
Several lawmakers are working on legalization bills, but none has come
up for a vote and some legislators say they are trying to get a consensus.
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In what could be a precedent-setting decision, a New Jersey
administrative law judge has ordered an insurance company to pay for
medical marijuana for an injured worker who suffers from lingering
neuropathic pain in his left hand after an accident while using a
power saw at an 84 Lumber outlet in 2008.
Judge Ingrid L. French took testimony from the worker, a 39-year-old
Egg Harbor Township man, and a Cherry Hill psychiatrist/neurologist
who said the marijuana treatment was appropriate because it would
allow the patient to reduce his prescription opiate use and lower the
risk of serious side effects.
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