Updated: Apr 29, 2021
by Tyler Williams
The unprecedented changes that the pandemic brought to our world left us with some questions on how to find ways to release tension or escape from our realities. Perhaps, an outlet to blow off some steam, might be participating in all things 4/20. In honor of 4/20 last week, let’s talk more about Mary Jane.
On February 22, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy officially signed three bills into law to legalize the possession of marijuana in the state of New Jersey. However, according to NJ.com, individuals looking to legally buy marijuana in New Jersey will have to keep waiting. The state will need to license new dispensaries to meet the public need.
The New Jersey website further stated, it had 13 medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state, and current companies are expected to open more this spring. Meanwhile, they have struggled so far to supply enough marijuana for the state’s 100,000 registered patients, and must certify that they can meet the need before opening their doors to the public.
Governor Murphy said the following: “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.” If New Jerseyans are thinking about growing their own weed in their own backyard, they shouldn't rush. This source informs that unlike other states that legalized marijuana, there’s no provision in the law that allows recreational or medical users to grow their own plant at home.
When it comes to the criminal justice issue related to Mary Jane, this article reported that thousands of people have been arrested for marijuana possessions since January 1st, when a constitutional amendment legalizing weed went into effect. All pending marijuana charges are now to be thrown out, and a system is being implemented to vacate prior marijuana convictions so records can be wiped clean.
Yet, there’s more. The law is not letting people off the hook like that. The only exception, the Attorney General Gurbir Grewal office wrote, is during a motor vehicle stop "if there is probable cause to believe that the driver is operating the vehicle while under the influence” stated by this source. Furthermore, "The new laws are clear that the odor of marijuana, either burned or raw, by itself does not establish reasonable suspicion to justify a continued stop, nor probable cause to conduct a search of the vehicle or the person, in a marijuana possession or even in a low-level (fourth-degree) possession with intent to distribute case. As a result, the vehicle and occupants must be released once the initial reason for the stop has been addressed” the Attorney General's Office stated.
The NJ State Police Benevolent Association, a police union, warned residents. "The mere smell of marijuana and its use in your presence will no longer be grounds to search an individual," The union added, "The new law states a law enforcement officer no longer has probable cause to search a minor for illegally using marijuana or alcohol. And if an officer violates a minor's rights by using pot or alcohol as the reason for a search, then the officer will be charged with deprivation of civil rights.", stated Patch.com.
In conclusion, this source reported that provisions in the bill allowing the use and possession of marijuana take effect immediately. With this law being passed, just imagine if this pandemic blows over by the spring or summer. Let’s just say a lot of New Jerseyans are going to change the Garden State to a whole different meaning.