NJ Attorney General Reminds Residents That Legal Weed Hasn't Started Yet

Five states passed ballot questions on Tuesday legalizing recreational marijuana for adults over 21 years old, but the new rules haven't yet gone into effect.

In New Jersey, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal thought it prudent to remind residents that they can still get into trouble if they're caught toking up.

"It is important that residents accurately understand the current situation, so they do not inadvertently engage in criminal conduct relating to marijuana — conduct that may be legal in the future once the Legislature acts, but is not presently legal based on [Tuesday's] vote," Grewal said in a statement Wednesday.

Legal cannabis passed overwhelmingly in New Jersey with over 60 percent of voters' approval. But the new law won't go into effect until January 2021, and there are still questions as to how New Jerseyans will actually be able to legally buy marijuana in the state (it may take some time for the legislature to agree on regulations for the new industry).

"All of the State's criminal laws relating to marijuana continue to apply, until, among other things, the Legislature enacts a law creating that regulatory framework," Grewal added.

Ending marijuana prohibition — and the mass incarceration of non-violent offenders that is tied to it — was a major point of emphasis of Governor Phil Murphy's gubernatorial campaign in 2018.

Murphy's administration also believes taxing sales of legal marijuana will be a major source of revenue.

Grewal concluded that his office plans to issue "additional guidance for law enforcement" until the Legislature enacts the new rules.

During Murphy's administration, the Legislature has taken steps to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana (up to two ounces) and reduce penalties from arrests and criminal charges to fines.

Photo: Getty Images

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