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New Jersey Courts Expunge Over 360,000 Marijuana Cases


On September 16, 2021, the New Jersey Judiciary announced that the state has expunged over 362,000 marijuana cases since July 1 – with thousands more to come. The move comes months after the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order, which “provides for the dismissal, vacating, and expungement of certain marijuana and hashish cases from criminal records.

In 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (A. 5981/S. 4154) into law, which facilitates a process for reviewing and vacating criminal records of individuals who have been previously convicted of low-level marijuana offenses. This year, Gov. Murphy signed a separate bill into law that legalizes recreational marijuana for adults who are 21 years of age or older.

After the announcement, the state courts launched an awareness campaign to inform people who have been convicted of the following offenses to seek expungement through the Marijuana Decriminalization Law:

  • Possession of more than 50 grams of cannabis, or more than five (5) grams of hashish

  • Possession of 50 grams or less of cannabis, or five (5) grams or less of hashish

  • Distribution of less than one (1) ounce of cannabis or less than five (5) grams of hashish

If any of the cases above included a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, use/being under the influence of a controlled substance, or failure to make lawful disposition of a controlled substance, those charges will also be expunged.

The campaign will run for a minimum of six (6) months. The judiciary is also working together with state police departments to ensure police records are also expunged.

According to MaryAnn Spoto, a spokeswoman for the Judiciary, there could be another 125,000 to 150,000 more expungements for the courts to automatically fulfill. For individuals with marijuana convictions that were not automatically expunged, they can still file a motion for review with the court.

Expungement means a charge or conviction is no longer part of your criminal record. Therefore, if your record is expunged, you do not have to report the charge or conviction on a job application, college application, or housing application.

For more information about the marijuana expungement process in New Jersey, check out the courts’ website:

If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Bergen County, contact the Law Offices of Joseph R. Donahue, LLC today and schedule a free initial consultation. 

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