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New Jersey Presses Pause on Marijuana Prosecutions

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s legal professional common has introduced an instantaneous maintain of all marijuana instances in municipal courts statewide till at the least September.

The choice was included in a letter state Lawyer Basic Gurbir Grewal despatched Tuesday to municipal prosecutors within the state. It requested them to hunt an adjournment till Sept. four — or later — of any matter “involving a marijuana-related offense pending in municipal court docket,” a transfer that may permit the legal professional common’s workplace time to develop “acceptable steerage” for prosecutors.

Grewal stated he plans to convene a working group of legal justice stakeholders to check the difficulty and advise him on attainable options. He intends to challenge a statewide directive by the top of subsequent month regarding the scope and “acceptable use of prosecutorial discretion” in marijuana-related offenses in municipal court docket.

Grewal’s letter didn’t say if arrests for marijuana possession would even be placed on maintain, and authorities declined touch upon that challenge Tuesday.

The letter was first reported by New Jersey Advance Media.

It got here simply days after Jake Hudnut, the newly put in municipal prosecutor in Jersey Metropolis, introduced that his workplace would search to downgrade some marijuana costs to noncriminal offenses, search the outright dismissal of low-level marijuana costs and divert these defendants with prior drug arrests and indicators of dependancy to town’s neighborhood court docket.

The legal professional common’s workplace shortly notified Hudnut that he lacked the authorized authority to decriminalize marijuana or in any other case refuse to criminally prosecute marijuana-related offenses, noting that solely the state Legislature may take such motion.

Advocates of marijuana legalization within the state say they’re attempting to beat a long time of stigma, in addition to a federal prohibition, in an effort to make New Jersey the most recent state to legalize hashish. However they are saying they continue to be optimistic that payments will move the Democrat-led Legislature this yr. Opponents level to the legalization effort’s sluggish tempo as an indication it may stall out.

Amol Sinha, govt director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s New Jersey chapter, stated Grewal’s letter was a “step ahead” that ought to carry the state nearer to reforming its marijuana legal guidelines.

“We should pump the brakes on marijuana arrests and prosecutions, and interact in a critical vital examination of how we deal with the tens of hundreds of marijuana arrests we make annually.”

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