New AG guidance urges prosecutors to consider impact of charges, demonstrates need for legalization
The ACLU-NJ, a member of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s working group concerning prosecutorial discretion with regard to marijuana offenses, commended the formation of the working group and the results of its deliberations.
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha:
“Attorney General Grewal’s convening of this discussion signaled an important moment for New Jersey, and the guidance issued today (PDF) represents one step further. Municipal prosecutors – like county prosecutors -- have immense power to change the course of a person’s life for the better by using their discretion, and in this guidance, the Attorney General urges municipal prosecutors to use it to balance the scales of justice.
“The Attorney General makes clear that municipal prosecutors should use their considerable discretion to weigh whether a marijuana arrest truly warrants the devastation it can wreak on a person’s life, from diminished employment prospects to loss of housing and separation from families as a result of immigration consequences, along with other effects that can turn everyday undertakings into day-to-day struggles.
“Crucially, this guidance illuminates why marijuana legalization through the legislative process is so urgent. We applaud the Attorney General for recognizing the devastating impacts that a marijuana charge can have on individuals and their families. But, guidance can only go so far – we need a change in the law itself to bring justice to all New Jerseyans.”
“As our state moves toward legalization of marijuana – a policy move that most New Jerseyans support – the Attorney General has clarified the places in the law where prosecutors can exercise their discretion in a way that makes our state more just.