New Jersey gets serious, 88,000 marijuana cases dismissed

New Jersey Gets Serious About Expunging Marijuana Infractions

The New Jersey Judiciary announced it vacated or dismissed nearly 88,000 marijuana cases since July 1, when the state’s decriminalization law took effect. It included clearing the records of those caught up in enforcement of the ‘war on drugs.’

These are just the first of about 360,000 cannabis cases eligible to be automatically vacated, dismissed and expunged (the process of sealing arrest and conviction records), with the expungement component happening “in the coming months,” according to a press release announcing it last week.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner issued an order at the beginning of the month that certain pending marijuana cases must be dismissed, failure-to-appear warrants rescinded and cannabis-related violations of probation or pretrial monitoring vacated.

People with such convictions who aren’t automatically identified by the court system can petition directly for their cases to be dismissed.

A new electronic system will be created to allow judiciary staff to provide certification of expungements to members of the public who want to verify whether their records have been cleared.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed companion marijuana legalization and decriminalization bills on Feb. 22. Cases that will be eligible for expungement include the sale or possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, possessing drug paraphernalia and being under the influence of marijuana.

People with such convictions who aren’t automatically identified by the court system can petition directly for their cases to be dismissed.

The state’s top law enforcement official has also been proactive about implementing cannabis reform since legalization was enacted. The day after Murphy signed the measure, Democratic Attorney General Gurbir Grewal directed prosecutors to drop cases for cannabis-related offenses and issued separate guidance for police on how to proceed under the updated laws.

Grewal has also taken steps to ensure people aren’t exploiting provisions of the legalization law before retail sales begin. No retail marijuana businesses have been licensed since the state enacted recreational legalization earlier this year, and regulations still need to be developed before adult-use shops can open.

Last month, Grewal sent warning letters to companies that were effectively circumventing the state’s marijuana laws by “gifting” cannabis in exchange for non-marijuana-related purchases such as overpriced cookies, brownies and stickers.

Gifting is lawful between adults 21 and older under New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis law, but a number of businesses have allegedly taken advantage of the policy by giving away “free” cannabis products to those who purchase other items like snacks and baked goods.

Read the entire press release here.

This piece is a part of a content sharing arrangement between The News Station and Marijuana Moment.

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