New Jersey made history on February 22, 2021, when Governor Murphy signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act and the marijuana decriminalization laws. Consequently, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal immediately issued a directive to all municipal, county, and state prosecutors ordering the dismissals of certain pending marijuana charges.

Going forward, the following activities no longer violate New Jersey law:

  • Distribution or marijuana or hashish (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(12));
  • Possession of marijuana or hashish (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-10(a)(3) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4));
  • Under the influence – only when the individual fails to dispose of marijuana or hashish (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b));
  • Failure to properly dispose CDS – only when the individual fails to dispose of marijuana or hashish (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(c));
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia when the paraphernalia was used, or was possessed with intent to be used, to ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce marijuana or hashish into the body (N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2);
  • Any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense subject to conditional discharge pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1;
  • Possession of CDS in a vehicle – but only when the CDS is marijuana or hashish (N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1).

For pending cases involving these decriminalized offenses, prosecutors shall seek dismissals in any cases where a juvenile or adult’s conduct occurred on or before February 22, 2021. The Attorney General is allowing prosecutors to do this on an ad hoc basis – meaning as the cases come up for status conferences, the prosecutor will move for dismissal at the status conference. In cases involving charges not absolved by the new laws, those matters will continue but with only the still-illegal activities charged. In those cases, the prosecutor must dismiss charges based on the now-legal activities.

If you have already been convicted of one or more of these decriminalized offenses, your guilty verdict, guilty plea, placement in a diversionary program, or other entry of guilt on a matter where the matter occurred prior to February 22, 2021, your resolution will be vacated by operation of law. That means your conviction, remaining sentence, ongoing supervision, and/or unpaid court-ordered financial assessment is also vacated. You can read the full directive here: ag-Directive-2021-1_ Dismissal-of-Marijuana-Cases.pdf (

Of course, this does not mean that marijuana is legal on a national level. While you will no longer risk being prosecuted by a New Jersey municipal prosecutor, county prosecutor, or state prosecutor, you do risk prosecution by federal law enforcement if you engage in any of the listed activities above.

If you have any questions about this major development in New Jersey criminal law, please reach out to The Bianchi Law Group, LLC at 862-210-8570.

We are a team of former prosecutors that aggressively fight the government when they charge our clients with crimes.

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