In a letter (PDF) sent to all county and municipal prosecutors in the state, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal directed prosecutors to seek adjournments in all marijuana-related cases in New Jersey’s municipal courts until at least September 4. He also announced the creation of a working group to advise him on the enforcement of marijuana laws, with the goal of informing a statewide directive on prosecution of marijuana offenses.
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha:
“Attorney General Grewal’s letter to prosecutors is a step forward for New Jersey that should bring us closer to reforming our marijuana laws and ultimately righting the wrongs of unjust marijuana enforcement.
“We must pump the brakes on marijuana arrests and prosecutions, and engage in a serious critical examination of how we handle the tens of thousands of marijuana arrests we make each year. By directing prosecutors to pause adjudication of marijuana cases, this letter starts that process.
“A single marijuana conviction can have devastating consequences, including fines, incarceration, job loss, and effects on housing and immigration status, which affect not just the individual, but their families and communities. As the state Legislature charts a course towards legalization of marijuana for adult use, it only makes sense that municipalities would begin attempting to undo the harms of prohibition that have ravaged communities – particularly communities of color – throughout the state.
“We hope that the Attorney General’s working group enlists a wide array of perspectives, with a composition that includes defense attorneys, advocacy organizations, and the voices of directly impacted community members, in addition to prosecutors. We look forward to working with county and municipal prosecutors, the Attorney General, and criminal justice stakeholders toward a directive that advances racial justice and serves to drastically reduce the number of marijuana prosecutions in anticipation of legalization.”