With two-bit pot busts officially now history in New Jersey, the state's top lawman issued directives Tuesday to prosecutors, police departments and other crime fighters to stop making minor weed busts and drop pending cases immediately.
Here are some of the things you should know:
1. You can legally possess up to six ounces of pot.
2. You can't gift or sell more than an ounce.
3. All previous convictions for crimes involving those amounts must be vacated.
4. Driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal -- but the smell of pot itself is no longer a legal probable cause for a law enforcement officer to search you, your home or your vehicle.
5. An employer cannot discriminate against off-hour marijuana consumers (Drug-free workplace laws remain legal).
6. Those under 21 cannot be arrested or given summonses for pot or booze -- written warnings must be issued.
7. You still can't buy pot from a licensed dispensary in New Jersey without a medical marijuana card. That will soon change when recreational dispensaries are opened.
State Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal alerted all state, county and local law officers and officials to changes in enforcement -- effective immediately -- after Gov. Phil Murphy signed three marijuana reform laws Monday night.
The attorney general issued two documents to law enforcement that he shared with the public:
The new law says that “possession of six ounces or less of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, or five grams or less of cannabis resin, is not subject to any punishment, as this possession is not a crime, offense, act of delinquency, or civil violation of law.”
For less than six ounces, Grewal said, police can't make arrests and prosecutors must drop all pending cases for:
- possession of marijuana and hashish;
- selling less than one ounce;
- having paraphernalia;
- having pot in a vehicle;
- being under the influence of pot;
- failing to dispose of it.
A third law decriminalizes marijuana and alcohol possession for those under 21.
Police must issue a written warning to the offender -- no arrest, no parental notification.
The second time it happens, parents must be notified (unlike the first time).
Any more violations after that require a referral to a community services program.
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