New Jersey Puts Hold On Marijuana Prosecutions Until September

July 24, 2018 - 10:58 am

TRENTON, N.J. (WCBS 880) -- New Jersey’s Attorney General is putting a hold on all marijuana cases in municipal courts until September.

New Jersey advanced media said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced the move in a letter to prosecutors Tuesday. He explained the adjournment would allow his office time to develop “appropriate guidance.”

Gerwal’s announcement comes amid a report that a bill legalizing marijuana may be considered by the state Senate in September.

Gov. Phil Murphy has also made it his goal to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state.

It’s not clear if arrests for marijuana possession would also be put on hold.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) has advocated for full legalization of marijuana for a decade. He told WCBS 880’s Mack Rosenberg that he was happy with Grewal’s decision.

“It gives us additional momentum to get this done,” he said. “We’ve been talking about it for quite a while now. I’ve been talking about it for years. But we’ve gained additional momentum with the Murphy administration, and now through the attorney general’s latest guideline, I think that gives us all the impetus in the world to get back this summer and get this done.”

He said between now and September should be enough time to work out legislation to legalize marijuana if lawmakers get to work right away.

“We have been working feverishly behind the scenes. We’ve been diving into the details. We’ve been working on it line by line. When you’re creating an industry from scratch, there’s a lot of details. But we don’t want to get to the details. We want to get something done,” he said.

An effort to legalize marijuana did not work out earlier this summer, though Scutari said it did not exactly fail.

“The process by which we were undergoing was not going to be timely because of the budget constraints and the budget talks that we were bogged down on, and now I think we have a real opportunity to focus singularly on this issue for the remaining portion of the summer, and hopefully get it done,” he said.

Scutari noted that New Jersey would be one of only two states to legalize marijuana legislatively rather than through a public referendum.

“There’s a lot of benefits to that, quite frankly, because if details are not what we need them to be, they’re easier to fix. When you do it through a constitutional mandate, unfortunately, every time you want to make a change, sometimes you have to go back to the voters, and we don’t want to see that happen,” he said. “We want to pass a good, clean bill, and make sure that there is a legal cannabis industry in New Jersey going forward.”

Currently, New Jersey has the second highest marijuana arrest rate in the country, behind Wyoming.