Fines? Police warnings? Gov. Murphy, state senators spar over penalties for minors caught with marijuana
The path to the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey has met another roadblock once again, as Gov. Phil Murphy and state senators spar over penalties for minors caught with the substance.
Until the two sides come up with an agreement, New Jersey's legal weed industry is effectively in legislative limbo.
Legalizing marijuana did pass in the state, but just like drinking, it'd be legal for people 21 and older. Lawmakers are in disagreement over what penalties underage adults and minors would face.
Gov. Murphy said Tuesday he doesn’t want more youth tangled up in the criminal justice system, but he also made it clear he wants penalties. Some suggestions are fines, community service, and police warnings.
But on the other hand, there’s a social justice aspect to this, and some predict penalties could lead to minority youth being unfairly targeted. Until it’s all figured out, cities and small businesses eager to benefit from marijuana revenue will have to wait.
"This whole economic output is now put on pause, solely because we can't come to terms on the last remaining issue," says attorney Mike McQueeny, who is an expert on Cannabis Law.
In a recent version of the bill, those between 18 and 20 caught with marijuana face fines, those younger than 18 spotted by police would be given what's being called a curbside warning -- with no arrests. As of now, there are no planned negotiations.
The recent version of the bill is on the governor's desk. He can sign it into law or continue negotiations with lawmakers.