With two marijuana bills stalled on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk, his office on Tuesday sent lawmakers a proposed change that establishes minor penalties for underage use after New Jersey legalizes weed, two sources told NJ Advance Media.
The change would levy fines of $250 for those under 21 caught with one ounce of marijuana and $500 for possession of more than one ounce, but less than six, according to the sources with knowledge of the “cleanup” bill sent to the Legislature. The legal marijuana legislation permits possession of up to six ounces.
The proposed fines fall below the threshold of a disorderly person’s offense. Police could not arrest young people for marijuana possession, but would simply issue tickets comparable to parking tickets.
That makes the penalties less than those for with underage drinking.
The requested change also decriminalizes marijuana and cannabis, which have legal distinctions in the legislation. Marijuana is illegally purchased, while cannabis is a controlled product from a dispensary.
“Through the cleanup bill, we’re bringing standardization and coherence to the process,” said a source in Murphy’s administration who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The fine creates a deterrent to youth use, but also takes a progressive approach, the source said.