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Proposed Marijuana Legislation Leaves Employers in the Weeds

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While we hear a lot about the benefits of legalizing recreational marijuana—the business opportunities it provides, expungement of criminal records, where dispensaries will be located and the like—no one is talking about the human resource ramifications. Yes, decriminalizing recreational marijuana is a step forward in many ways, but there are holes in the legislation that leave lots of questions for businesses.

As recreational use of marijuana loses its criminalization and stigma, business owners and human resources need to be extra cautious as they prepare for implementation to manage risk and employee behavior.

Continue reading Proposed Marijuana Legislation Leaves Employers in the Weeds
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AG Grewal Releases New Guidance on Municipal Court Prosecutions of Marijuana Offenses

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ,  Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today released new guidance addressing the scope and appropriate use of prosecutorial discretion in municipal court prosecutions of marijuana-related offenses. The guidance reaffirms that municipal prosecutors are not permitted to adopt their own policies to decriminalize marijuana. Instead, prosecutors handling marijuana cases may appropriately exercise prosecutorial iscretion on a case-by-case basis, as they would when prosecuting any other type of criminal offense.
Continue reading AG Grewal Releases New Guidance on Municipal Court Prosecutions of Marijuana Offenses

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AG Grewal Announces Working Group on Municipal Court Prosecutions of Marijuana Offenses and Other Crimes

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July 28,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ,  Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today named the members of a working group of criminal justice stakeholders that will review the scope and appropriate use of prosecutorial discretion in marijuana-related and other offenses in municipal court, as well as other issues relating to the role of municipal prosecutors.

The 20-member working group will represent prosecutors from the state, county, and municipal levels; defense attorneys; police; civil rights organizations; and other community leaders. This broad spectrum of stakeholders reflects the collaborative approach that Attorney General Grewal has taken with respect to all policy initiatives he has spearheaded during his tenure.
The Attorney General first announced that he would convene a working group to study and advise him on the scope of municipal prosecutors’ discretionary authority in a letter issued earlier this week. The Attorney General will consider the working group’s advice when he prepares a directive—expected in August—that will provide guidance about the scope and appropriate use of prosecutorial discretion in marijuana-related cases in municipal court.

In creating the working group, the Attorney General is taking action to respond to recent developments that raise concerns about quality of justice being administered in New Jersey’s municipal courts. First, last week, a New Jersey Supreme Court committee released a report that makes a series of recommendations for policy changes and legislative proposals aimed at promoting the fair administration of justice in municipal courts. Also last week, the Attorney General issued a letter addressing the proper scope of municipal prosecutors’ discretion in marijuana-related cases and invalidating a memorandum issued by a municipal prosecutor who purported to decriminalize marijuana.
“I look forward to hearing from this working group about how we can improve the equal, impartial, and uniform administration of justice in our municipal courts,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Every day, my Department works with criminal justice stakeholders to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This working group will review how the municipal prosecutors under my supervision can contribute responsibly to the progressive solutions we are seeking.”

“Chief Justice Rabner has called on New Jersey’s municipal courts to adhere to the Judiciary’s high standards of integrity, independence, and fairness, without regard to any outside pressures,” Attorney General Grewal noted. “The working group that we are establishing today will kick start a parallel review of the scope and appropriate use of prosecutorial discretion in municipal court, including in prosecutions of marijuana offenses.”
The members of the new working group will include:
Veronica Allende, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice within the Department of Law and Public Safety, who will chair working group;
Matthew Berns, Counsel to the Attorney General;
Richard T. Burke, Warren County Prosecutor;
Pat Colligan, President of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association;
Claudia DeMitro, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice;
Annette DePalma, President of the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors’ Association;
Stephan Finkel, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Department of Law and Public Safety;
Charles Fiore, Gloucester County Prosecutor;
W. Reed Gusciora, Mayor of Trenton;
Jake Hudnut, Chief Municipal Prosecutor for the City of Jersey City;
Van Lane, Deputy Public Defender for the Monmouth Trial Region;
Robyn B. Mitchell, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice;
Jiles H. Ship, New Jersey Police Training Commissioner and Past President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and
Commissioner of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP);
Ahmad Rasool, Municipal Prosecutor for the City of Newark (or a designee);
Amol Sinha, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Jersey (or a designee);
Richard T. Smith, President of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP;
Steven A. Somogyi, Assistant Director for the Municipal Court Services Division of the New Jersey Judiciary;
Sherry Stembridge, Assistant Essex County Prosecutor;
Esther Suarez, Hudson County Prosecutor;
John Zebrowski, Chief of Police, Sayreville Police Department.

The working group may offer recommendations to the Attorney General on issues including the proper scope of municipal prosecutors’ discretionary authority, in general and with regard to marijuana offenses in particular; the manner in which chief municipal prosecutors exercise their authority over other municipal prosecutors, subject to the supervisory authority of the county prosecutors and Attorney General; and the ethics, integrity, and independence of municipal prosecutors from improper outside influence.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Grewal asked all municipal prosecutors in New Jersey to pause marijuana-related prosecutions in municipal court until September 4, 2018, while the Office of the Attorney General solicits advice from the working group and develops statewide guidance. The Attorney General’s directive from earlier this week does not affect law enforcement officers’ authority to make marijuana-related arrests or County Prosecutors’ authority to prosecute marijuana-related offenses in Superior Court. The Attorney General’s forthcoming directive will address how marijuana-related prosecutions may proceed in municipal court after September 4, 2018.
While the working group will advise the Attorney General on municipal court prosecutions of marijuana-related offenses—in time for the Attorney General to issue his directive in August—the working group may offer advice on other topics, to inform longer-term, progressive reforms concerning the role of municipal prosecutors.

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Marijuana could take New Jersey to New Highs

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November 10,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Following Democrat Phil Murphy’s victory in New Jersey’s gubernatorial election on Tuesday, marijuana legalization in the state could very quickly become a reality. The incoming governor, made cannabis legalization a key part of his campaign platform. Murphy has promised to legalize pot for Garden State stoners aged 21 and older within his first 100 days in office, with an eye on raking in an estimated $300 million a year in taxes.

Murphy’s “Pot” proposal would legalize the recreational use of marijuana across the state. Democrats now have full control of the state’s legislature, and are making the issue a key part of their agenda going into 2018. New Jersey Senate President Steven Sweeney  told the Washington Examiner this week that he is confident that a marijuana legalization bill will be signed into law before April.

If New Jersey legalize the recreational use of marijuana it would become the ninth state in the country to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and the first to do so through legislation instead of a ballot initiative.

Even though a New Jersey marijuana legalization bill could be signed into law in the first few months of 2018, it would still take a while to go into effect. Legal experts claim it could take up to 18 months after the bill passes before adults 21 and older could start consuming cannabis legally.

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Colorado shows why legalizing marijuana is bad policy

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Jeff Hunt is the vice president of public policy at Colorado Christian University.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., has introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in an effort to legalize marijuana across the nation. This is the furthest-reaching legalization effort to date and marks another sad moment in our nation’s embrace of a drug that will have generational consequences.

Our country is facing a drug epidemic. Legalizing recreational marijuana will do nothing that Booker expects. We heard many of these same promises in 2012 when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana.

http://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/08/10/colorado-shows-why-legalizing-marijuana-bad-policy/553148001/

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New Jersey on fast-track to legalizing recreational pot in 2018

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Gubernatorial candidates Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno each favor changing states marijuana laws

POT POLITICS NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR ELECTION
BY KEVIN C. SHELLY
PhillyVoice Staff

Don’t spark up yet, New Jersey. But maybe next year.

The state’s marijuana law appears destined to change in 2018 after Gov. Chris Christie leaves office on Jan. 16.

The Republican nominee for governor, current Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, supports decriminalizing pot, but not full legalization. On the other hand, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy has made recreational marijuana legalization part of his campaign platform.

The powerful New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee held a committee meeting Monday on legalization featuring a parade of more than 20 supporters and just three witnesses who spoke against the proposed change.

http://www.phillyvoice.com/change-likely-new-jersey-marijuana-laws-2018/

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N.J.’s move to legalize marijuana has begun. Here’s all you need to know about it

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Updated June 19, 2017
Posted June 19, 2017

By Susan K. Livio | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Although a topic in Trenton for three years, the campaign to legalize marijuana in New Jersey officially begins Monday when a Senate committee will discuss how the potentially billion-dollar  industry should be regulated.

So what will it take for you to be able to legally buy recreational pot in New Jersey?

Gov. Chris Christie is vehemently opposed to legalizing marijuana and he has six months left on his final term. And the election for governor will matter for supporters of legalizing pot: Democratic candidate Phil Murphy supports legalization but Republican candidate Kim Guadagno does not.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), the bill’s sponsor, said he wants to begin the discussion now to build support among his colleagues in the legislature and across the state.

“Now is the time to begin shaping New Jersey’s recreational marijuana program,” Scutari said. “We will have a new governor next year and we should be prepared to move forward with a program that ends the prohibition on marijuana and that treats our residents fairly and humanely.”

Here’s what you need to know about the road to legal pot in New Jersey.

Here’s what the legal pot bill would do

Scutari’s bill, (S3195) based on visits to Colorado’s thriving recreational program would:

Decriminalize marijuana possession of up to 50 grams “immediately” and allow people who have been arrested for pot possession to expunge their records;
Establish a Division of Marijuana Enforcement in the state Attorney General’s Office which would create the rules used to govern the legal market of growers and sellers;
Allow people to possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana, 16 ounces of edible products infused with cannabis, 72 ounces in liquid form and seven grams of marijuana “concentrate;
Impose a sales tax on recreational sales beginning at 7 percent in the first year, climbing to 10 percent in the second year and jumping five percent more each year until it reaches 25 percent. Taxes on medical marijuana would be abolished.
Give the five existing medical marijuana dispensary nonprofit groups first crack at selling recreational pot.

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/06/njs_road_to_legal_marijuana_begins_here.html#incart_2box_nj-homepage-featured

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Cannabis Industry Legitimized Through Digital Currency

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June 19,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, There is an old saying that “cash is king.” But when it comes to forming a legitimate business or industry in the United States, digital currency has dethroned cash.

Those in the cannabis industry, which operates mainly in cash, know this all too well, as their industry is having trouble legitimizing itself, raising money laundering and monitoring fears from the U.S. government. Banks, which are federally regulated, are hesitant to work with cannabis companies because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and that’s why it’s forced to be a cash-only business.

But Steve Janjic, CEO of Amercanex (www.amercanex.com), the first fully electronic cannabis marketplace, is changing that through an electronic wallet known as ACE Pay.

“The only legal way for the industry to do what it is doing is because of our system,” Janjic says. “We had to build a real payment system for it to survive. Without a regulatory system, we would never get the buy-in of the federal government, which now has everything it needs to regulate the industry, collect taxes, etc.”

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, nearly 20 percent of Americans do not have access to electronic banking, a bank card or a credit card. Because of this, they deal in cash.

ACE Pay provides a bank account for those who utilize the system, forcing money to change hands electronically, much like PayPal.

Janjic says that those on the system can obtain a physical card if they desire, and that the ACE Pay system is fully automated so banks do not have to add extra staff. Thanks to a proprietary algorithm, those who are on the system will only be allowed to purchase cannabis once a day and minors will not be allowed to make purchases.

Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia have either legalized some form of marijuana use or possession, or are in the process of doing so. Colorado has been the most successful, fully legalizing marijuana in 2012. Despite its success, Janjic says that 30-35 percent of the state’s marijuana is still purchased on the black market because of its cash-based nature.

“There are many states that could gain from fully legalizing marijuana,” Janjic says. “Struggling states could start growing cannabis, which could help turn their economies around.”

If other states in the union choose to follow Colorado’s model, it could be a windfall in new revenue for those states. According to Fortune, Colorado collected more than $150 million in taxes from the legal sale of marijuana in 2016. The first $40 million annually collected from taxes on marijuana sales is earmarked for public school projects. Not only is the cannabis market in Colorado generating tax revenue for the state, it is also creating more than 18,000 jobs annually.

About Steve Janjic

Steve Janjic is CEO of Amercanex (www.amercanex.com), founded to provide a transparent, neutral and non-manipulated marketplace for institutional cannabis-industry participants, including growers and retailers. The company, a commodities exchange for the rapidly growing industry, strictly adheres to the centralizing regulatory and reporting requirements to local and regional regulatory authorities. Janjic is also the former global head of eFX Sales and Distribution at Tullett Prebon, one of the world’s largest institutional brokerage firms, with 168 years in the marketplace. While with Tullett Prebon, he has established a global sales force focusing on institutional e-commerce and prime brokerage sales/distribution teams.

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New Jersey’s Recreational Marijuana Bill Is Unique

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Much better than nothing.

By: Mike Adams

May 30, 2017

It is highly likely that a number of states will attempt to jump on the bandwagon over the next couple of years and legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. New Jersey, which is currently governed by anti-drug warrior Chris Christie, is undoubtedly expected to be the main focal point of the legalization debate heading into 2018.

In fact, State Senator Nicholas Scutari, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently introduced a piece of legislation aimed at establishing a statewide cannabis trade. The proposal, which is designed to give adults 21 and over the freedom to purchase marijuana in a manner similar to beer, will begin shaping “New Jersey’s legal recreational marijuana program for years to come,” Scutari wrote in a special guest column for the Star Ledger – See more at: https://thefreshtoast.com/cannabis/details-of-new-jerseys-recreational-marijuana-bill-revealed/#sthash.4XJo9iEK.dpuf

– See more at: https://thefreshtoast.com/cannabis/details-of-new-jerseys-recreational-marijuana-bill-revealed/#sthash.4XJo9iEK.dpuf

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Epic Pot Farm Found in New Jersey Couple’s Garage, Officials Say

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In total, officials estimated the street value of the operation to be worth about $3 million

Authorities recovered nearly 1,500 budding marijuana plants from a New Jersey home in what they’re calling one of the biggest pot seizures in Essex County history.

Sherline Dare, 37, and her husband, 41-year-old Densley Lawrence, allegedly ran the pot growing operation, which officials estimate was worth about $3 million, out of their single-family home near Springdale Avenue in East Orange.

Source: Epic Pot Farm Found in New Jersey Couple’s Garage, Officials Say | NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Marijuana-Bust-New-Jersey-East-Orange-Millions-of-Dollars-Pot-Grow-House-Police-Arrest-423646064.html#ixzz4huMysIED