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Jersey City can't decriminalize pot, AG says

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Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop called Grewal's letter “concerning.”
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop called Grewal's letter “concerning.” - ()

Less than a day after Jersey City officially decriminalized marijuana, the state attorney general told city officials to put on the brakes.

A letter Friday from New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Jacob Hudnut, the city’s chief municipal prosecutor, has no legal authority to decriminalize marijuana or refuse to prosecute related offenses.

Grewal said his letter does not take a stance on decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, but instead reiterates they are matters for the state Legislature to handle.

“Municipal prosecutors’ duties are limited ‘to ensure the uniform and proper administration of justice in this state,’” Grewal writes. “A municipality’s ‘decriminalization’ of conduct that violates the State’s criminal laws would be inconsistent with these objectives, and would result in – not not mitigate – disparate treatment of similarly situated offenders.”

Grewal also said it was “disappointing” Hudnut did not consult with his office or that of Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez.

Meanwhile, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop called the letter “concerning.”

“After all the rhetoric in Trenton surrounding racial/social injustices, it’s baffling why anyone would push rules that are counter to everything they have previously stated publicly,” he said.

The mayor added that although the city will respect the letter, prosecutors are granted the right to “amend or dismiss charges as they see fit.”

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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