In both cases, a defendant had previously received a conditional discharge for a low-level marijuana offense and now seeks to enter into pretrial intervention (PTI) for another offense. Under the marijuana reform laws, prior convictions as well as conditional discharges for low-level marijuana offenses have now been vacated and expunged “by operation of law.” Typically, under the PTI statute, a prior conditional discharge is a statutory bar to PTI eligibility: in other words, a person gets only one bite at the apple. The question in both cases is whether that is still true when the first bite was for conduct that the Legislature has now legalized and where the conditional discharge has been vacated and expunged by operation of law.
Our briefs argue that a conditional discharge automatically vacated and expunged by the marijuana reform laws should not be a statutory bar to PTI admission, because the Legislature intended to remove legal disabilities and collateral consequences of past marijuana offenses, and a statutory bar is clearly that. Our briefs also remind the court of the gross disproportionate impact of marijuana criminalization on Black and brown New Jerseyans and the need to ensure decriminalization is meaningfully and comprehensively implemented as a matter of racial justice.