Since the inauguration of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, NJ residents have been waiting for the legalization of marijuana as was promised by Murphy on the campaign. This vision has yet to become a reality as it is in 9 states and the District of Columbia, but for those facing legal challenges for weed, the Attorney General is giving them a break.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on Tuesday suspended all cases related to marijuana until September. This comes after Jersey City made an attempt to decriminalize marijuana in the city earlier this month to which the A.G. voided this unilateral move on Friday. However, Grewal’s suspension of marijuana crimes until September 4 does open the window for more discussion on how prosecutors will handle weed cases in the state going forward.
The state is currently working out a policy that would legalize marijuana which would make New Jersey the tenth state to do so. Marijuana is currently legalized only for medicinal purposes in the state.
Full legalization is “the bigger lift,” Governor Murphy told reporters according to Politico. “On the surface, [decriminalization] is intoxicating. You think it’s a step in the right direction [but] it actually leaves the business in the hands of the bad guys,” Murphy said.
The argument against decriminalization is that it allows the sale of unregulated marijuana in New Jersey. The Governor’s push for legal pot is mainly to allow for regulation of the popular drug and is opposing what was done in New York City. NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio in the Spring asked the police to stop arresting people for marijuana, essentially decriminalizing weed.
Although Murphy seems to be against decriminalization, he is still leaving the decision up to the state Attorney General.
NJ’s position on marijuana is part of a larger debate that has put Trump appointee Attorney General Jeff Sessions at odds with left-leaning states who favor legalization. With pot still being illegal on a federal level, Sessions has made attempts to allow federal prosecutors to pursue marijuana cases which could be a death sentence for established dispensaries in the United States.