2053 Woodbridge Avenue - Edison, NJ 08817

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

E606 NJLaws Newsletter


1.   Ken Vercammen, family & dog wish you Happy Holidays 
2.   Will Seminar Jan 13, 2021 via Facebook Live, watch at home live online
3. NJ Marijuana bill passes Senate
 Ken Vercammen, family & dog wish you Happy Holidays 

During this Holiday & Christmas season I’d like to express my appreciation to our clients, friends and family for the friendship and memories shared over the past 35 years.  Thanks for doing business with our office.
Vercammen Family annual update for 2020- My daughter Shannon received her MBA in January and has recently become engaged to Zach. My son, Dr. Brendan loves his life as a Dentist in Myrtle Beach. Lexi our dog greets many clients in the office 3 days a week. My wife Cynthia enjoys part time retirement and now handles the law office finances. My Dad Al spends time with the many friends both he and Carol made in his South Knolls Jackson community, and we are all thankful for the support and love they have shown.

2. Will Seminar Jan 13 via Facebook Live, watch at home live online
   As our clients and friends mature, we do more Estate Planning & Probate, Estate Administration. Many individuals have not taken the time to have a Will or Power of Attorney prepared.  Please accept an invitation to you and your guests to join us at the "2021 Update -Wills and Estate Planning” Seminar on January 13, 2021 from 12:15-1:00 pm and 5:00-5:45 pm. We will discuss the current changes in Wills and Estate Law. Please email the office if you plan on attending the seminar or if you would like us to email the updated materials. 
 January 13, 2021 at 12:15-1:00 PM and again 5pm sharp   Free
Law Office of Kenneth Vercammen, 
2053 Woodbridge Ave, Edison, NJ 08817  
    Program can be watched on your computer or IPhone via Facebook live
New Main Topics:
1.   Handling Probate during Covid and while Government offices closed
2.   Dangers If You Have No Will or documents invalid
3.   Getting your Estate Planning Documents done when you can’t go into a law office
4.   What goes into a Will
5.   Power of Attorneys recommendations
6.   Living Will & Advance Directive for Medical Care
7.   Administering the Estate/Probate /Surrogate
8.   Avoiding unnecessary expenses and saving your family money
We now also prepare Wills online without clients having to come to the office!

3. NJ Marijuana bill passes Senate
      Decriminalization of Marijuana and Hashish, Regrading Certain Offenses, and Criminal Justice Relief
Under the bill, unlawful possession would be any amount of marijuana over six ounces, and for hashish, over 17 grams, punishable as a crime of the fourth degree (with the same penalties as the current law). Possession of up to six ounces of marijuana, or up to 17 grams of hashish would be completely decriminalized and have no associated criminal or civil penalties.
    Regarding the above described small amount unlawful distribution and unlawful possession with associated criminal penalties, the odor of marijuana or hashish, or burnt marijuana or hashish, would not constitute reasonable articulable suspicion to initiate a search of a person to determine a violation of law. Additionally, a person would not be subject to arrest, being detained, or otherwise being taken into custody unless the person had committed another violation of the law. Also, a person who committed such a violation could not be deprived of any legal or civil right, privilege, benefit, or opportunity provided pursuant to any law solely by reason of committing that act, nor would committing one or more such acts modify any legal or civil right, privilege, benefit, or opportunity provided pursuant to any law.
    Using or being under the influence of marijuana or hashish, or failing to voluntarily deliver such to a law enforcement officer, both currently disorderly persons offenses (up to six months imprisonment; up to $1,000 fine; or both), would no longer be illegal acts, and thus there would be no legal consequences flowing from using, being under the influence of, or failing to deliver to law enforcement, marijuana or hashish. Using or possessing with intent to use drug paraphernalia to ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce marijuana or hashish into the human body would also no longer be considered an illegal act; under current law, it is graded as a disorderly persons offense. 
    Notwithstanding that using or being under the influence of marijuana or hashish, or using or possessing drug paraphernalia to use with marijuana or hashish, would no longer be illegal acts, the smoking, vaping, or aerosolizing of marijuana or hashish, and the use of drug paraphernalia to ingest or otherwise introduce these substances into the human body, could be prohibited or otherwise regulated on or in any property by the person or entity that owns or controls that property, including multifamily housing that is a multiple dwelling as defined in section 3 of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-3), the units of a condominium, as those terms are defined by section 3 of P.L.1969, c.257 (C.46:8B-3), or a site in a mobile home park as defined in section 3 of P.L.1983, c.386 (C.40:55D-102), which site is leased to the owner of a manufactured home, as defined in that section, that is installed thereon.
    As to individuals facing existing consequences associated with their past distribution, possession, or drug paraphernalia offenses involving marijuana or hashish, the bill provides multiple opportunities for criminal justice relief.            
    No prosecutor shall pursue any charge, including a charge of delinquency, pending with a court on the first day of the fifth month next following enactment of the bill, which takes effect immediately, and for which the delay provides time for Statewide administrative preparation, based on any of the following crimes or offenses:
      (1) unlawful distribution of less than one ounce of marijuana, or less than five grams of hashish, in violation of paragraph (12) of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:35-5;
     (2) obtaining or possessing more than 50 grams of marijuana in violation of paragraph (3) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-10, or obtaining or possessing 50 grams or less in violation of paragraph (4) of that subsection, or using, being under the influence of, or failing to voluntarily deliver to a law enforcement officer, any amount of marijuana or hashish in violation of subsection b. or subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:35-10; 
    (3) a violation involving any of the aforementioned offenses and using or possessing with intent to use drug paraphernalia with that marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S.2C:36-2;
    (4) a violation involving any of the aforementioned offenses and possession of that marijuana or hashish while operating a motor vehicle in violation of section 1 of P.L.1964, c.289 (C.39:4-49.1); and
    (5) any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense involving a controlled dangerous substance (which only applies to small amount marijuana or hashish offenses) or drug paraphernalia that is subject to conditional discharge pursuant to N.J.S.2C:36A-1.
    The non-prosecutable charges and cases for the above violations would be expeditiously dismissed, which could be accomplished by appropriate action by the prosecutor based upon guidelines issued by the Attorney General, or the court’s own motion based upon administrative directives issued by the Administrative Director of the Court.
      De-scheduling Marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance
     On and after the effective date of the bill, marijuana would no longer be included as a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance, which are substances considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, as described in the “New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act,” P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-1 et al.). The bill also expressly states that marijuana may not be designated or rescheduled and included in any other schedule by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety pursuant to the director’s designation and rescheduling authority set forth in section 3 of P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-3).

   Great outline in Asbury Park Press: NJ marijuana legalization is coming soon: What's in, what's out of landmark legal weed bills?
    New Jersey is finally in the home stretch to legalize marijuana.
The Legislature this week approved two bills that serve to both decriminalize and legalize weed. The measures stop arrests for most low-level marijuana offenses and set up the general system in which New Jersey's legal cannabis industry will operate. 

      If Gov. Phil Murphy signs the bills into law, they'll take effect on Jan. 1 — a monumental day in state history, as New Jersey becomes the 13th state to officially legalize marijuana for adult use. 
      But through weeks of negotiations, the legal weed bills have been amended countless times in ways that have made major changes, additions or subtractions.
Under this bill, anyone in New Jersey would be allowed tocarry up to 6 ounces of marijuana on their person,by far the highest legal threshold of the 15 states with legal weed. And they won’t face any penalty, even a written warning.
The bill also requires the state to put an automatic expungement process into place, essentially removing certain marijuana crimes — effectively anything set to become legal — from a person's criminal record without requiring them to file for expungement. And it would require courts to dismiss any pending marijuana case along those same lines.

Those with guilty pleas would have their pleas and cases dismissed, and courts would also provide post-conviction relief for those with a conviction of something now deemed legal. 
It also removes marijuana use or possession as a parole or probation violation, and judges wouldn't be allowed to prohibit marijuana use as a condition of supervised release.
The bill also removes the smell of marijuana — burnt or otherwise — as "reasonable suspicion" for police officers to conduct a search of a vehicle.

Home grow still not permitted
      Even though you will ne able to possess, buy and sell legal weed, you still can't grow cannabis at home. 
Old-school drug testing
     This became one of the last sticking points in negotiations over legal weed bills.
       Under the bills, an employer can maintain their right to keeping a drug-free workplace. They can require an employee take a drug screen as a condition of employment. And with the right cause, employers can require a drug test — such as concern over an employee being under the influence on the job. 
        But that drug test must also come with a physical examination to determine if the person is actually under the influence at the time, since tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of marijuana, can remain in the body for weeks, long after a person was actually high.
Legislators hope this language will allow employers to set the conditions for their workplace without allowing them to dictate what an employee can do in their free time. No laws exist barring workers from getting drunk on a Friday night, as long as they're sober by Monday morning, for example. 
There remains some fluidity over businesses overseen or contracted by the federal government. Federal law doesn't allow CDL drivers to consume marijuana at all, for example, so even New Jersey businesses must adhere to those laws.
     And if a federal contract is threatened due to the state's drug policies, the business can revert back to federal policies — namely, firing an employee for using marijuana. source https://www.app.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/marijuana/2020/12/18/new-jersey-marijuana-legalization-legal-weed-vote-results-phil-murphy/3936158001/
More details from the Bill
    Any guilty verdict, plea, placement in a diversionary program, or other entry of guilt on any matter involving the aforementioned marijuana and hashish crimes and offenses that was entered prior to the effective date of the bill, but the judgment of conviction or final disposition on the matter was not entered prior to that date, would be vacated by operation of law. The vacating of all such matters would occur on the same delayed date applicable to ceasing to pursue and dismiss pending charges to permit Statewide administrative preparation to execute these provisions of the bill. The Administrative Director of the Courts, in consultation with the Attorney General would be expressly authorized to take anticipatory administrative action necessary to vacate the guilty verdicts, pleas, placements in a diversionary program, or other entry of guilt.

It provides for criminal justice reforms with respect to several offenses associated with manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing, or possessing or having under control with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, smaller amounts of marijuana or hashish (hereafter shortened to just distributing, which includes possessing or having under control), as well as possession of smaller amounts of marijuana or hashish, through such means as decriminalizing such offenses, requiring dismissal of pending charges, vacating current entries of guilt or placement in diversionary programs, and vacating current convictions for such offenses, as well as expunging past charges, arrests, and convictions for such offenses and providing for administrative action to expunge records associated with any such matters.
     Mere possession of a cannabis item (in addition to consuming such item) on elementary or secondary school property by a person of legal age to purchase such item would be a disorderly persons offense, as is the case currently with respect to the unauthorized possession of alcohol on such property (punishable by imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both).  
     Regarding the possession or consumption of a cannabis item by a person under the legal age to purchase cannabis, the bill expands the current laws addressing underage possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages to include cannabis items, however consistent with P.L.2019, c.363 (C.52:17B-171.14 et al.), which broadly eliminated the imposition of fines against juvenile delinquents, and P.L.2020, c.50, which accelerated the implementation of this new policy, a fine associated with a violation would not apply to a delinquent offender (under 18 years of age):
     (1) for possession in a public place, of an amount that may be lawfully possessed by a person of legal age to purchase cannabis items, the offense would be a petty disorderly persons offense, subject to a fine of not less than $250; for possession in a public place, of an amount that exceeds what may be lawfully possessed, or who knowingly consumes any cannabis item in such place, the offense is a disorderly persons offense subject to a fine of not less than $500; and
     (2) for possession on private property, of an amount that may be lawfully possessed by a person of legal age to purchase cannabis items, a first offense would be a civil penalty of $100, and a second offense would be a civil penalty of $200; a third or subsequent offense would be a municipal fine of $350, which is the same as a subsequent offense for possession of an alcoholic beverage on private property; for possession on private property, of an amount of cannabis items that exceeds what may be lawfully possessed, or consumption of any cannabis item on private property, a first offense would be a municipal fine of $250, and a second or subsequent offense would be a municipal fine of $350 (the same penalties as applicable to possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage).           
     It would also be unlawful, generally punishable as a $50 civil penalty, for an underage person to present a false identification in order to obtain cannabis items available for lawful consumption; this would differ than using a false identification with respect to alcoholic beverages, which is expressly noted in State law as not constituting an offense and therefore carries with it no statutory punishment.
     Finally, similar to the statutory law’s treatment of the possession of an “open container” of alcohol, or consumption of alcohol, while operating a motor vehicle, the bill would amend relevant laws in Title 39 of the Revised Statutes to make it a motor vehicle offense for the motor vehicle operator to possess an “open container” or “open package” of a cannabis item. A first offense would be subject to a fine of $200, and a subsequent offense would be subject to a fine of $250 or alternatively imposition of a period of community service, the same penalties applied to violations involving an alcoholic beverage. Passengers in motor vehicles would be permitted to possess and consume cannabis items, other than such items intended for smoking, vaping, or aerosolizing.
      Law Enforcement Drug Recognition Experts
     The bill would also codify and expand elements of the existing law enforcement certification process for police officers and others to become a Drug Recognition Expert in order to detect, identify, and apprehend drug-impaired motor vehicle operators. The new standards and course curricula would be offered by schools approved by the Police Training Commission, and the training commission would consult with the Cannabis Regulatory Commission with respect to aspects of the course curricula that focus on impairment from the use of cannabis items or marijuana. Any police officer certified and recognized by the Police Training Commission as a Drug Recognition Expert prior to the effective date of the bill would continue to be recognized as certified until that certification has expired or was no longer considered valid as determined by that commission, or the certification was replaced with a new certification in accordance with the new standards and course curricula for certification set forth in the bill.

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2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
website: www.njlaws.com