New Jersey Lawmakers Propose Penalties for Underage Cannabis Crimes

Heeding the requests of Gov. Phil Murphy — who said he would not sign the state’s legalization law without it — lawmakers in New Jersey have introduced a bill containing penalties for underage cannabis possession.

Full story after the jump.

New Jersey lawmakers have introduced a bill laying out fines and non-criminal penalties for underage cannabis use and possession after Gov. Phil Murphy (D) indicated he would not sign the adult-use legalization package without such provisions, NJ.com reports.

Individuals 18 to 20 caught possessing up to six ounces of cannabis would be subject to a $250 fine, while those under 18 would not have to pay a fine, but could face juvenile delinquency penalties, such as community service. Those 18 to 20 caught with more than six ounces – the legal limit for adults – would face fines of at least $500.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari, a Democrat who has championed cannabis reforms in the state, told NJ.com that the Senate would introduce its own version of the legislation on Thursday. He noted that the Senate and Assembly versions of the bills are not exactly the same. The Assembly Appropriations Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee have each scheduled hearings on the cleanup bills for Thursday.

The broad legalization bills were approved by lawmakers last month as required by an Election Day ballot initiative approved by 67% of New Jersey voters. While some aspects of the law took effect on January 1, officials estimate legal sales will not commence in the state for six to 12 months from the time the bill is signed into law.

Murphy called for penalties to deter underage use to be non-criminal while the legalization bill includes criminal penalties for people who are underage.

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