[Note: this arrest predates the law change described below.]
On February 22, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed three bills changing the legal status of marijuana in the state. These laws, which went into immediate effect, created a two-tier framework: regulated, and everything else. The former is fully legal in New Jersey, while everything in the latter is still defined as “controlled dangerous substances” under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-2. That said, despite the scary-sounding name, the latter category has been largely decriminalized for non-distribution offenses. The new laws eliminated existing prohibitions and created new, more lenient penalties for possession and distribution.
As of mid-September, New Jersey courts had automatically expunged more than 360,000 low-level marijuana cases, with more than 100,000 additional cases eligible for automatic expungement.
According to a March 26, 2021 document published by the Attorney General of New Jersey, under the new law, if a driver is not found to be under the influence, the odor of marijuana, either burned or raw, by itself does not establish reasonable suspicion to justify a continued stop, nor probable cause to conduct a search — even in a low-level possession with intent to distribute marijuana case.
There are also severe restrictions on law enforcement officers’ ability to investigate and take action against anyone under the age of 21 who is suspected or known to be in possession of marijuana.
Due to the above changes in New Jersey law, Real World Police will not be providing any details about this incident or the arrestee, beyond what is communicated in the video.
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