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New Jersey wrestles with Marijuana's, past, present and future

As the nation deals with its views on legalizing marijuana, individual states are taking closer looks at their laws and considering the implications of Federal legalization. In New Jersey, bill A3620, introduced in March of 2018, would provide "expedited expungement of marijuana offenses in the event of decriminalization or legalization..." The motivation for this bill is the notion that, if legalized, it will be difficult to justify continued punishment for those with past low-level marijuana convictions.

Taking it a step further, Sen. Nicholas Scutari has recently introduced two bills: one of which would legalize possession and use of small amounts of marijuana and the other seeks to expand the medical marijuana program.

It seems the momentum favors judicial reform for low-level marijuana charges in New Jersey, but the jury is still out.

The problems

Expunging, or clearing, past marijuana convictions isn't as simple as it sounds. One significant hurdle is that New Jerseyans have marijuana convictions that go back well before digital databases took over in the 1980's. That would mean significant expungement-related costs to review all records before any decisions are made.

Additionally, while the motivation of the bill is to end punishment of people with past marijuana convictions, some private companies who assist in employment searches could still have old convictions in their employment files. That information could still be used to deny employment to those with expunged records.

New charges

Despite seriously considering legalizing marijuana, the drug is still illegal in New Jersey. If you or someone you love finds themselves with a new marijuana charge, with so much at stake, now is the time to put your time and energy into proven legal counsel who can navigate the existing, and potentially new laws to minimize your charges.

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