New Jersey Legalizes Adult-Use Cannabis After Passage of Cannabis Clean-Up Bill

Today, New Jersey’s legislature passed Senate Bill No. 3454, also known as the “clean-up bill.”  The clean-up bill sets the penalties for underage possession of cannabis and changes the penalties for underage possession of alcohol to match.  There will be no fines or criminal penalties for the possession of cannabis by minors.  People under the age of 21 and over the age of 18 would be subject to up to a $50 civil fine for possession of cannabis under the legal limit for those 21 and over (six ounces), and up to a $100 civil fine should they possess over that amount.  There are no criminal penalties for possession by those under the age of 21 and over the age of 18.  The clean-up bill also establishes that the scent of cannabis is not probable cause for detainment or search by the police, police must have body-cameras turned on when interacting with suspected violators of New Jersey’s underaged cannabis laws, and forbids detainment for violations of the underaged cannabis laws.

In response to a 2020 ballot initiative amending the New Jersey constitution to permit the possession, sale, and use of cannabis by adults 21 and over, the state legislature passed a decriminalization bill, permitting the possession of up to six ounces of cannabis, and a legalization bill, which established the taxation rate and legal marketplace for the state.  However, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy worried about the lack of legislation regarding underage cannabis use and would not sign either the decriminalization or legalization bills until the legislature passed the clean-up bill.  All three bills were signed by Gov. Murphy today, February 22, 2021.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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