On November 3, 2020, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to our state constitution to implement the legalization of a regulated recreational marijuana use market by adults 21 years of age and older. Widespread public attention to the ballot question, along with the broad public support for the initiative, may lead members of the public and potential business operators to conclude that the sale and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes is now legal. However, for the present time, and for at least the next several months, THIS IS NOT THE CASE AND THE SALE AND POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSES IN NEW JERSEY REMAINS AGAINST THE LAW.
The recent public vote on the legalization of a regulated recreational marijuana market for adults 21 years of age and older was the result of resolutions passed by both houses of the New Jersey Legislature to put the potential legalization of adult use recreational marijuana to a public vote in the form of a proposed amendment to the New Jersey Constitution. The text of the constitutional amendment that was approved at the election a few days ago provides that it does not go into effect until January 1, 2021. In addition, the sale and use of recreational marijuana shall be subject to regulation by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, an entity that was created to oversee the sale and use of medical marijuana. Finally, the constitutional amendment mandates that the Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s regulatory authority concerning legalized recreational cannabis shall be authorized by law enacted by the Legislature.
As of today’s date, the Commission is not operational as no individuals have been formally appointed to the Commission, the Legislature has not enacted any laws defining the authority of the Commission to regulate the sale or use of recreational marijuana, and, accordingly, the Commission has not yet implemented any regulations setting forth the process by which adult use recreational marijuana may be legally sold or possessed.
In light of these facts, on November 4, 2020, the New Jersey Attorney General published guidance to the law enforcement community about the impact of the recently passed constitutional amendment. In that document, the Attorney General observed:
“The Amendment, however, neither legalized, nor decriminalized, the sale or possession of “unregulated” marijuana. Moreover, it does not take effect until January 1, 2021, and requires enabling legislation and regulations, which will set forth the legal amounts and lawful locations for the sale, possession and use of legal cannabis. As such, the possession of marijuana outside New Jersey’s medical cannabis program remains illegal under existing New Jersey laws.”
So – be warned. Adult recreational marijuana use and sale is not yet legal in New Jersey. It will likely take some time for the Legislature to appoint individuals to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Once a full Commission is appointed, it will likely take some time for the Commission to pass a law to authorize the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to consider and implement regulations, and then it will take time for the Commission to promulgate those regulations.
If you have a question about this legal alert, please contact Darren Gelber or another member of the Wilentz Criminal Law Team.
The postings on this blog were created for general informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or a solicitation to provide legal services. Although we attempt to ensure that the postings are complete, accurate, and current as of the time of publication, we assume no responsibility for their completeness, accuracy, or timeliness. The information in this blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.
This blog may contain links to independent third party websites and services, including social media. We provide these links for your convenience, and you access them at your own risk. We have no control over and do not monitor the content or policies (including privacy policies) of these third-party websites and have no responsibility for, and no liability with respect to, their content, accuracy, or reliability. Unless expressly stated, we do not endorse any of the linked websites or any product, service, or publication referenced herein or therein. We will remove a link to any site from this blog upon request of the linked entity.
We grant permission to readers to link to this blog so long as this blog is not misrepresented. This site is not sponsored or associated with any other site unless so identified.
If you wish for Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A., to consider representing you, please obtain contact information from the Contact Us area of this blog or go to the firm’s website at www.wilentz.com. One of our lawyers will be happy to discuss the possibility of representation with you. However, the authors of Wilentz blogs are licensed only in New Jersey and/or New York and do not wish to represent anyone who viewed this site in a state where the site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state.