What You Need to Know About New Jersey’s New Weed Law
In 2021, New Jersey led the way when it enacted a new marijuana law that decriminalized the adult use of cannabis. Now, after a year, a New Jersey marijuana lawyer can guide you through what the new weed law means for you.
Does the New Weed Law Make Marijuana Legal?
Yes and no. New Jersey’s new weed law does not fully decriminalize marijuana. It still defines marijuana as a controlled and dangerous substance. However, the new marijuana law does legalize possession and the regulated sale of small amounts of marijuana. Nevertheless, even under the new marijuana law, you can face some penalties if you:
- Bring or use marijuana on school premises,
- Possess more than ten marijuana plants,
- Operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana,
- Possess more than six ounces of marijuana, or
- Transfer (sell or give) another person more than an ounce of marijuana.
The consequences of the charges under the new weed law depend on the circumstances. Under the new marijuana law, charges can range from violations to indictable crimes.
Nonetheless, the new marijuana law can complicate matters. For example, there are two potential consequences for possession on school grounds. If a student possesses marijuana on school grounds, police can issue a written warning. However, if the student possesses more than 6 ounces of marijuana—even under the new weed law—the police can charge the student with an indictable crime.
Does New Jersey’s New Weed Law Improve Traffic Stops?
Yes, the legislature tilted police interactions in favor of the public when it crafted the new marijuana law.
First, a police officer cannot use the smell of marijuana as probable cause to perform a search. However, the police officer can perform a search if there is probable cause that some other crime occurred. For example, if the police have probable cause to believe a driver is operating a vehicle while under the influence, the police can perform a limited search.
Next, under the weed law, dog alerts to marijuana no longer give police probable cause to perform a search. Therefore, the Ocean County Sheriff and other New Jersey Law Enforcement agencies have retired their marijuana sniffing dogs.
A New Jersey weed attorney can advise you whether a search was lawful under the new weed law.
How Does the New Weed Law Affect Teenagers and Young Adults?
The new marijuana law dramatically impacts the way police deal with teenagers and young adults. Police can still seize marijuana and other contraband. However, police generally cannot arrest young adults and teenagers for small amounts of marijuana. Instead, the new weed law requires police to issue a warning to a person under 21 years old.
The new marijuana law also impacts police encounters. For example, the police cannot:
- Request someone under 21 to give consent for a search;
- Use the sight or smell of marijuana as justification for a stop; or
- Arrest, detain, or take someone under 21 into custody for having a small amount of marijuana.
Instead, the new weed law requires police to issue written warnings to people under 21. The police also issue a written warning to the person’s parent or guardian. After two warnings, the new marijuana law requires police to give information about substance abuse treatment and counseling.
The police cannot arrest a teenager or young adult for refusing to give information—such as a name or address. However, the police may be able to arrest the person if they walk away. Furthermore, New Jersey’s new weed law does not fully decriminalize marijuana. Thus, the police can still arrest someone under 21 if they have an unlawful amount of marijuana.
An Experienced New Jersey Weed Lawyer Can Answer Your Questions About the New Weed Law
New Jersey led the nation when it decriminalized marijuana. Moreover, the new weed law has removed some power from the police.
However, even under the new marijuana law, the police have the authority to enforce laws—like driving under the influence of marijuana.
Furthermore, the police and the prosecutor will use the law against you. But an experienced New Jersey marijuana attorney can fight for your rights. If you face weed law charges, contact the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty today. John has over 30 years of experience and has earned a reputation for winning tough cases.