Monday, March 4, 2024

New Jersey Cannabis Prosecutions Put On Pause

On Tuesday, the New York Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal told prosecutors to hold off on all cases of arrest that revolved around cannabis — and to hold off on any more convictions until August at the earliest — while marijuana law is further discussed and put into place.

Though it isn’t legalization, it’s an important and positive step for the cannabis community and imbibers as a whole. The heart of the legalization movement has always been about keeping people out of jail and getting them released when they did and do go down. Cannabis possession is known to be a victimless crime that mucks up our prison and courts systems. Not to mention the lives it destroys.

In many places where cannabis is yet criminalized, the possession of a simple joint can mean the difference between student funding and outright rejection, public housing and homelessness and even freedom and the loss of freedom. The New Jersey AG’s move to halt convictions and jail sentences – for now – is a step in the right direction, no matter if it does or doesn’t lead to legalization through legislation.

The move comes after Jersey City, NJ tried decriminalizing the plant in their city borders, freeing up courts and jail space and cracking down on the racial disparities that so often occur in cannabis arrests. Though the AG saw that particular move as premature, it is likely that it contributed to the decision to suspend prosecution of pot.

New Jersey is the projected contender to be the 10th state to legalize recreational cannabis and only the second to do so via legislation. Governor Phil Murphy platformed on the issue and though his lofty promise of legalization within his first 100 days didn’t come true, he remains pot’s champion.

Not only did Gov. Murphy expand the medical marijuana laws to sufficiently cover most New Jerseyans by the inclusion of chronic pain and anxiety as qualifying conditions, though there are still a few hoops that must be jumped through to get a medical marijuana recommendation and then card, Murphy made even the process more streamlined.

This latest move by Grewal is another step toward the social reform that we have been fighting for from the beginning of the movement to remove pot’s stigma and criminality. It shows guts, but it also shows the face of progress and a movement with momentum behind and before it.


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