On Monday Governor Murphy signed into law legislation legalizing and regulating cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years and older (A-21 – The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act) and decriminalizing marijuana and hashish possession (A-1897). The Governor also signed S-3454, clarifying marijuana and cannabis use and possession penalties for individuals younger than 21 years old. The League will be offering a free briefing session on the new laws on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 12 noon. Due to capacity limits, please register by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org subject line “A-21” to receive the link to the briefing.
In the meantime, we want to bring to your attention the following:
- Any existing municipal ordinance regulating or prohibiting cannabis is null and void. They must be readopted to be effective.
- Municipalities have 180 days (until August 21, 2021) to take action to either prohibit or limit the number of cannabis establishments, distributors or delivery services; the location, manner, and times of operation, and establishing civil penalties for violation of ordinances.
- If municipalities do not take action within 180 days, any class of cannabis establishment or distributor will be permitted to operate in the municipality, and depending on the type of establishment, be considered a permitted use in certain zones.
- Once a municipality permits cannabis establishment or distributor operations in their community that action remains valid for 5 years. After this 5-year period, a municipality has another 180-day window to prohibit or limit cannabis operations, but this action only applies prospectively. Those who initially opt-out can opt-in at any time.
- A municipality cannot prohibit the delivery of cannabis items and related supplies by a delivery service within their jurisdiction.
- When responding to a call related to underage consumption or possession of cannabis or alcohol can be guilty of a crime of official deprivation of civil rights if knowingly violating the provisions of the new law regarding interactions with underage persons.
In addition, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced the launch of a Marijuana Decriminalization & Cannabis Legalization Resource Page. The webpage is intended to provide resources and information for police and prosecutors to help them navigate the new laws and policy. The Resource Page provides access to newly issued AG Directive 2021-1, governing the dismissals of certain pending marijuana charges, and access to interim guidance for law enforcement officers regarding marijuana decriminalization.
Early next week we will be issuing additional guidance, including sample ordinance language, to assist municipalities in navigating these new laws.