TRENTON, NJ - A publicized dispute between Jersey City Prosecutor Jake Hudnut and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has resulted in a positive concession for pro-legalization advocates, and advocates of not prosecuting individuals found to be in possession of the substance.
After scolding Hudnut last week for issuing a directive to Jersey City law enforcement not to prosecute medical marijuana offenses, Attorney General Grewal--who had served as Bergen County Prosecutor before this year--wrote a letter asking "that all municipal prosecutors in New Jersey seek an adjournment until September 4, 2018, or later, of any matter involving a marijuana-related offense pending in municipal court."
The push toward marijuana decriminalization and/or full legalization or recreational marijuana has been well documented by many media outlets and websites. Millennials, in particular, see this as common-sense legal reform.
Nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized weed altogether. While Grewal has mostly abstained from taking a stance on the issue--an Attorney General's job is to enforce the existing laws--his letter would seem to indicate he expects change is coming.
"This decision will at least delay and may completely prevent thousands of unfair prosecutions. These offenses can follow people around for their entire lives and make it more difficult to get a job or college education. We‘re thrilled to see this kind of action and are excited to continue the public discussion on legalization," said Evan Nison, Executive Director of NORML NJ.
New Jersey has the second-highest marijuana arrest rate in the country, behind only Wyoming, and the third-highest total number of weed-related arrests, following Texas and New York, according to 2016 FBI crime data. New Jersey also saw the largest increase in marijuana arrests from 2015 to 2016.