Legal Battle Over Marijuana: New Jersey’s Recreational Law Wins

Home » Legal Battle Over Marijuana: New Jersey’s Recreational Law Wins
Garry Stewart
Written By Steve Brandon

May 2, 2024

legal battle over marijuana: new jersey's recreational law wins

A New Jersey court has confirmed that the state’s law allowing recreational marijuana can operate alongside federal regulations. Judge Jack Sabatino, along with other judges, supported the previous ruling and overruled the argument done by Highland Park residents for allowing recreational marijuana sales that violated federal laws, even though federal rules already prohibit such sales.

Key Points of the Argument

The main issue according to Highland Park Residents is a rule made by the council in August 2021. This rule allowed shops to sell cannabis, places for people to use it, and delivery services in the area. Some residents who are against cannabis said that not only this rule, but also a bigger law in New Jersey called the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMMA), broke federal and state laws. But Sabatino explained that the state’s law allowing recreational marijuana doesn’t break the law.
legal battle over marijuana: new jersey's recreational law wins

Sabatinos Update on Marijuana Laws

He mentioned a court case called Hager v. M&K Construction from 2021. In that case, the New Jersey Supreme Court said that the Controlled Substances Act allows state laws to exist alongside it. This was seen when a company had to pay for an employee’s medical marijuana treatment after a work injury. The company worried about breaking federal law if it paid for the treatment, but the court disagreed with this argument. Sabatino also mentioned that the federal government’s view on medical marijuana in New Jersey is changing. He said federal officials plan to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III. This wasn’t part of the court’s decision. He mentioned that it’s been more than two years since New Jersey started selling recreational cannabis after voters said yes in a 2020 vote. Over 100 shops have opened since then, including at least one in Highland Park. Sabatino also talked about other states’ court decisions. He said that Oklahoma’s court decided their law allowing recreational marijuana isn’t stopped by federal law. The Supreme Court of New Hampshire also said that laws about reimbursing the cost of medical marijuana don’t go against federal law. Recently, a court in New York said that Congress chose not to mess with states’ marijuana laws. “We know that some other state courts disagree with us, but we think our reasons are stronger,” Sabatino wrote.

What court has to decide?

The appellate court agreed with some claims about preemption but also decided to reconsider a complaint about the ordinance that the lower court had rejected because it was late. The trial court must organise a meeting about the dismissed complaint within 20 days. Lawyers for the borough and residents didn’t comment when asked.

Take Away

Biden’s move to reclassify marijuana could lead to more research and regulated sales. But there are worries about unregulated products. Congress is discussing changes to marijuana laws due to growing support for reform. The focus is on balancing science, regulation, and addressing past injustices.
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