New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has ordered an immediate end to marijuana arrests and pending prosecutions while telling courts to set aside convictions before this week, when Governor Phil Murphy signed legalization bills.
Weed still can’t be sold legally, as the state must set up distribution, licensing, taxation and other rules, which will take effect in about a year. The drug remains outlawed at the federal level even as some U.S. states decriminalize it.
Grewal’s guidance, issued Monday night, spelled out that it no longer is against New Jersey law to possess as much as 6 ounces (170 grams) of cannabis. Not even sight or odor of cannabis can be cause for charges against users 21 and over, he wrote in notices to law enforcement. Users under 18 will get written warnings that will go to parents or guardians.
New Jersey voters approved marijuana legalization in November. It was delayed, though, by infighting among Democrats who control the legislature over fears of unfair enforcement involving those under 21, particularly among people of color.
Another order, addressed to prosecutors and court overseers, outlined the dismissal of certain pending charges and the setting aside of marijuana convictions and pleas.