Yes, the medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal in New Jersey. Medical marijuana became legalized in January 2010 under the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA). Years after, the legalization of medical marijuana paved the way for the legalization of recreational marijuana on February 22, 2021, when the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act was signed. This Act legalized marijuana for personal use by adults aged 21 and older. However, its use is subject to regulation by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission. The Act also decriminalizes the New Jersey marijuana possession and use of small amounts of marijuana and hashish and removes marijuana as a Schedule I drug. The legal sale of adult-use marijuana began in New Jersey on April 21, 2022.
The legalization of marijuana in New Jersey is authorized by four laws, including:
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, CUMMA, decriminalizes the possession of marijuana by qualifying patients, physicians, primary caregivers, alternative treatment centers, and other entities operating in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
No changes have been made to the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act as of October 2022. The most recent amendments were made on July 2, 2019, when Governor Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (Assembly No. 20) to ensure job protections and new procedures for drug testing, among other changes. Some of these provisions are as follows:
However, the amendment to the Act allows a legitimate medical explanation if an employee gets a positive test result. The employer is required to provide the employee or job applicant written notice of this right to explain the result. The employee that receives such notice may submit information to the employer to explain the positive test result within three business days of receiving the written notice. The proof of registration with the Cannabis Regulatory Commission or the authorization for medical cannabis issued by a health care practitioner or both may be presented with the explanation. On the other hand, within the same three business days, the employee or job applicant may request a retest of the original sample to verify the test result, but this will be at their expense.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement Assistance Marketplace Modernization Act (Assembly No. 21) is the law that legalizes the recreational use and possession of cannabis in New Jersey by adults 21 years and older. Governor Phil Murphy, on February 22, 2021, signed the cannabis reform bill into law. The Act decriminalizes the possession of six ounces of marijuana or less used on private property. The amendment also removes marijuana as a Schedule I drug. It provides that the adult use and sale of cannabis in New Jersey will be subject to the regular state sales tax of 6.625% and authorizes local governments in the state to add an extra 2% tax.
The Act redefined the responsibilities of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission as regards the personal use of cannabis. The responsibilities are:
The Act also highlights six marketplace classes of licensed businesses, including:
However, in August 2022, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission proposed a readoption of specially adopted new rules and amendments to adult-use cannabis in New Jersey. The proposed changes include:
These changes were adopted in February 2023.
The laws Assembly No. 1897 and 4269 New Jersey Legislature were among the bills signed into law in February 2021. It decriminalizes the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana, hashish, and personal-use quantities of regulated marijuana-infused products. It also requires substance abuse treatment under certain circumstances. The law provides for criminal and civil justice reforms and addresses legal consequences linked to certain marijuana and hashish offenses. In addition, A1897 creates awareness of available expungement relief. Under the law, expunged records include warrants, arrests, complaints, processing records, fingerprints, commitments, photographs, rap sheets, index cards, and judicial docket records. It also requires pending possession charges to be downgraded or dismissed. However, there is no information on when individuals will be able to begin the expungement process.
Introduced on February 11th, 2021, Senate Bill, No. 3454 addresses underage possession or consumption of various forms of cannabis and the legal consequences for such activities. It initiates funding for programs and services to help discourage and prevent underage possession and consumption of cannabis items. The law provides that anyone aged between 18 and under 21 years found with marijuana, hashish, or any cannabis item in any public place (including a motor vehicle) shall be fined not less than $250. Likewise, anyone under 18 years old found with marijuana, hashish, or any cannabis item shall be fined not less than $500.
The changes to New Jersey marijuana laws over time are as follows:
The House passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) in 2022. The bill distinctively removes marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances and removes criminal punishments for persons who possess, distribute, or manufacture marijuana. Other changes through the federal legislation include:
Adults aged 21 years and older can legally use cannabis in small quantities. They are allowed to possess up to 6 ounces of cannabis for recreational purposes. The allowable doses of medical marijuana is solely determined by Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) health care practitioners in New Jersey. MMP-registered patients aged 18 or older can use medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is mainly packaged in 1/4 or 1/8 ounce units. However, the maximum quantity currently allowed by law is 3 ounces in 30 days unless the patient is terminal, in which case the quantity is unlimited.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement Assistance Marketplace Modernization Act removed marijuana from the category of Schedule I drugs, but the US Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. Prior to the enactment of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 in the US, it was legal to consume, cultivate, and sell marijuana, but in 1937, marijuana was banned. However, from the mid-1970s, states in the country began to relieve penalties for marijuana possession.
Currently, New Jersey does not allow home cultivation of marijuana. Cultivation of 1 ounce to less than 5 pounds is a 3rd-degree crime punishable by a sentence of 3 to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000. However, Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) introduced bill S-3582 in March 2021. If signed, adults aged 21 and older will be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants at home and a maximum of 12 plants per household. Medical patients will also be permitted to grow up to 10 plants as adults. An adult cannot possess more than 6 ounces of cannabis as this is a fourth-degree crime attracting a prison term of 18 months and a fine of up to $25,000. Marijuana possession, sale, or distribution of 25 pounds or more may also be considered a 1st-degree crime punishable by 10 - 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $300,000. Note that the penalties for subsequent offenses will carry more weight than first-time offenses, hence, significantly increasing the attendant penalties.
The legal sale of recreational marijuana in New Jersey became effective in April 2022. However, the state still maintains strict restrictions on marijuana use, including the quantity an individual may purchase or possess. To foster the legal sale of cannabis, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, in March 2022, approved the license of seven alternative treatment centers to sell cannabis to persons above 21 without a medical card. The number of licensed retail stores for marijuana purchases increased to 19 by September 2022. The commission approved the sale of cannabis for recreational use at one ounce per purchase.
Also, state-registered medical marijuana patients can purchase medical marijuana at state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Medical marijuana dispensaries, also referred to as Alternative Treatment Centers in New Jersey, pay $20,000 annually in license fees. These dispensaries are not allowed to sell marijuana to residents that are not state-registered medical marijuana patients.
While marijuana is legalized for use by adults aged 21 or older in New Jersey, there are rules guiding its use, and failure to abide by these rules will result in penalties, depending on the gravity of the crime. Below are marijuana-related crimes and their penalties.
Adults aged 21 years or older can possess up to 6 ounces of cannabis in New Jersey. However, anything more than that is considered illegal and will attract a penalty of a fine and imprisonment. Possession of more than 6 ounces of cannabis by an adult is a fourth-degree crime that will attract a prison term of 18 months and a fine of up to $25,000. If the culprit is found within 1000 feet of a school, extra 100 hours of community service and an additional fine will be added to the sentence. Possessing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school will result in extra 100 hours of community service to the sentence and a variable fine depending on quantity.
The sale or distribution of marijuana in New Jersey is currently illegal. A person found distributing less than 1 ounce of marijuana will receive a written warning if it is a first-time offense. However, subsequent offenses would attract penalties, depending on the quantity of marijuana being distributed or sold.
The location where the violation occurs also influences the penalty that will be meted out to the culprit.
Sales of marijuana made to minors or pregnant women are felonies, resulting in double the fine and imprisonment term.
Unlike most states that have legalized medical marijuana, New Jersey does not allow home cultivation of cannabis even for registered medical marijuana patients. Personal cultivation of even one marijuana plant is a crime in the state punishable by a hefty fine and significant jail time. Summarized below are the penalties for cultivating marijuana at home or for personal use in New Jersey:
In New Jersey, hashish is the resin obtained from any part of the plant Genus Cannabis L. and any compound, production, derivative, salt, mixture, or preparation of such resin. The law permits adults aged 18 years and older to possess up to 17 grams of hashish. However, the possession of more than 17 grams of hashish is a 4th-degree crime that attracts a maximum sentence term of 18 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000. Other related offenses and their penalties include:
The law permits a person over the age of 21 to purchase, possess, and use cannabis paraphernalia. However, the sale of paraphernalia is a 4th-degree crime punishable by a sentence of not more than 18 months in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000. Selling paraphernalia to minors is a 3rd-degree crime punishable by a sentence of 3 to 5 years in prison and a maximum sentence of $25,000. Individuals are not allowed to advertise the sale of any such device or equipment as it is a 4th-degree crime punishable by a fine not exceeding $10,000 or 18 months in prison, or both.
A person charged with violating marijuana laws in New Jersey can contact the help of a competent criminal defense lawyer to beat the charges. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, the defense lawyer can assert the following:
There are several other additional marijuana limitations in New Jersey. Although possession of certain amounts of marijuana is legal in marijuana, failure to turn over the marijuana to a police officer is a misdemeanor offense with penalties. Driving under the influence of marijuana, or being in a vehicle where the driver is under the influence, is an offense. These offenses may attract the following penalties.
If an asset is deemed an integral part of illegal marijuana activities or an individual purchases an asset from the proceeds of the illegal sale and distribution of marijuana, such assets may be seized by law enforcement officers. Confiscation of assets in New Jersey occurs after a conviction for a criminal offense involving marijuana. New Jersey law permits the government to keep, destroy, or sell the confiscated asset.
Presently, New Jersey does not permit the cultivation of marijuana in the state. The quantity determines the penalties for cultivating cannabis. The quantity via a vis the penalties include:
Driving under the influence of marijuana or hashish is a serious crime in New Jersey. Refusing to hand over marijuana or hashish to a nearby police officer is a misdemeanor. Typically, the penalties for DUIs on marijuana in New Jersey vary according to an offender's DUI history. These offenses can be punished by:
Furthermore, the driving privileges of an adult offender shall be suspended, postponed, or revoked for between 6 months and two years of every person found guilty.
In March 1999, the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine researched the health benefits of marijuana. The research revealed that marijuana could treat or alleviate the pain or other symptoms associated with specific debilitating medical conditions like cancer, HIV, glaucoma, etc. Years later, on January 18, 2010, Ex-Governor Jon Corzine signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA), making New Jersey the 14th state to legalize marijuana for medical use. The implementation of CUMMA was stalled when Ex-Governor Chris Christie took office the next day. However, on August 9, 2012, New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Patient Registry reopened. Following this, registered physicians were allowed to initiate patient certifications with the Medical Marijuana Program (NJMMP). On September 10, 2013, Governor Christie signed into law a bill permitting patients younger than 18 years old to consume edible forms of marijuana.
The first dispensary opened in December 2012 in Montclair Township. As of October 2015, four additional centers had opened in Woodbridge,Egg Harbor Township, Borough of Bellmawr, and Cranbury Township. In July 2017, New Jersey issued the sixth permit to the non-profit Harmony Foundation, which permitted it to cultivate marijuana in the Town of Secaucus. After an additional permit was obtained, Harmony Foundation opened a dispensary in Secaucus in June 2018.
In a bid to expand the medical marijuana measure, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act in July 2019. The provisions of the Act were to:
Between 2017 and 2019, there was a legislative controversy on recreational marijuana legalization. Senator Nicholas Scutari, a Democrat from Union, initiated legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey, and on November 3, 2020, the New Jersey Public Question 1 was approved by voters in New Jersey. 67% of the voters voted yes, and 33% voted no. The New Jersey residents voted to approve an amendment to the state constitution to legalize the recreational use of cannabis by people aged 21 and older. Hence, the possession and use of marijuana for residents aged 21 and older were legalized.
Finally, on February 22, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act into law. Consequent to this, the possession of up to 6 ounces (170 grams) of cannabis or 17 grams of hash was legalized and a marketplace framework was set up. The state issued 37 licenses for the sale of marijuana beginning in April 2022. The Governor also signed A5342 in 2021, addressing underage marijuana possession or consumption of marijuana.
Following the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey, restrictions have been set to regulate its use. The restrictions include: