New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed three bills on March 1, 2021, that officially kickstarted the recreational marijuana industry in New Jersey. The passing of this legislation was hard-fought, and though there was substantial opposition, the bills legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for people over the age of 21 in New Jersey were signed into law.
This was a momentous day for the Governor, as he has pledged to legalize the drug in New Jersey since before taking office. In response to signing the bills, Governor Phil Murphy said, “As of this moment, New Jersey’s broken and indefensible marijuana laws which permanently stained the records of many residents and short-circuited their futures, and which disproportionately hurt communities of color and failed the meaning of justice at every level, social or otherwise — are no more.”
That being said, while the drug is legal to purchase for those who are over the age of 21, what happens if you are caught with the drug while under the age of 21? Fortunately, for those caught with the drug while underage, the potential penalties they may face are rather lenient. If you are under 21 years old and caught with the drug for the first time, the police will simply issue you a warning. If you are caught for a second time and you are under the age of 18, the police will issue a warning to your parents. If you receive a third warning, you will have to participate in certain community programs, such as drug education or treatment programs. Keep in mind, however, that there are no monetary penalties for possession while under the age of 21.
You should also know that those who are under the age of 21 and are caught in possession of marijuana have several rights under the new bill. For example, police in New Jersey can no longer stop you simply for smelling like marijuana. Additionally, they are no longer allowed to detain you past issuing a warning. Finally, they are legally obligated to wear and use body cameras at all times.
That being said, though the new law affords many protections going into the future, there have been over 2,000 marijuana-related offenses issued this year alone in New Jersey, and if you need help fighting your charges, our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys are here to help. Also if you have previously convicted of a marijuana offense, you may be entitled to have your record expunged.
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We understand how confusing certain legal issues can be, which is why we are dedicated to providing individuals with the compassionate, knowledgeable legal representation they deserve. Aronsohn, Weiner, Salerno & Kaufman has helped clients with various difficult legal challenges for over 40 years, which is why we know we have the experience needed to do the same for you. For experienced legal counsel regarding family law, litigation, business law, real estate, and criminal law, you know where to turn–contact Aronsohn, Weiner, Salerno & Kaufman today to schedule a consultation.