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New Jersey halts marijuana prosecutions until at least September

By
Ray Downs
On Monday, New Jersey announced it would suspend marijuana prosecutions until at least September. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
On Monday, New Jersey announced it would suspend marijuana prosecutions until at least September. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 24 (UPI) -- New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Tuesday that he asked prosecutors to adjourn all marijuana cases in municipal courts until at least Sept. 4.

In a letter to prosecutors, Grewal said he is asking for the adjournments so his office can develop "appropriate guidance" on how to handle marijuana cases as state lawmakers decide whether to allow recreational marijuana.

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Grewal's request came after a meeting with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who supports full legalization.

"This is a huge win for Jersey City, the state of New Jersey and, most importantly, the people who would have been impacted by the creation of a criminal record due to as simple marijuana arrest," Fulop said, according to the Asbury Park Press.

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Grewal's move unofficially decriminalizes marijuana for the time being, but New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that full legalization is a better avenue for the state.

"On the surface, [decriminalization] is intoxicating," Murphy told reporters. "You think it's a step in the right direction [but] it actually leaves the business in the hands of the bad guys. Your kids are exposed, it's not regulated, it's not taxed. So I'll leave the specifics of that to the attorney general, but that's a conceptual answer."

Sayreville, N.J. Police Chief John Zebrowski, who opposes marijuana legalization but told Politico he's "very open" to decriminalization, said police officers will likely continue to make arrests.

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"I don't think it will change the way in which our officers go about their business right now," he said. "At this point, we're going to have a wait-and-see attitude with this working group."

Sharon Lauchaire, spokeswoman for Grewal's office, pointed out that the letter does not instruct police to stop making marijuana arrests, NJ Advance Media reported.

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