Bastarrika, Soto, Gonzalez & Somohano, L.L.P.

Criminal defense for marijuana offences on hiatus in New Jersey

Until now, people caught with marijuana in New Jersey could have faced criminal charges from municipal prosecutors. However, the top law enforcement official in the state has advised all prosecutors in New Jersey to hold off on pursuing convictions for crimes related to cannabis. The criminal defense news comes as the Attorney General's office prepares to establish a working group on marijuana decriminalization.

The news does not mean that police will not be enforcing current pot laws across the state. While enforcement will continue, court proceedings and charges related to the drug are on hold until September, when new guidelines are expected to be given to municipalities. The news came in the form of a memo to prosecutors across the state.

Currently, marijuana is only legal in New Jersey for medicinal use. There are strict regulations for medical marijuana, which can only be obtained from six dispensaries across the state. Jersey City's move to decriminalize the use of marijuana in its municipality was recently voided by the state. However, the mayor of Jersey City says that this follow-up news about state-wide work toward decriminalization points to a trend toward possible legalization in the state.

The working group is intended to give clear guidance to law enforcement in how to handle marijuana-related issues as municipalities seek decriminalization. The working group is not explicitly working toward decriminalization or legalization at this point. Those who are facing drug charges in New Jersey may have additional criminal defense options in light of this news. Speaking with a lawyer is a good way to understand the options for each individual case.

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