Jersey City’s Legal Challenge to NJ Cannabis Law in Federal Court

Jersey City Challenges NJ Cannabis Law in Federal Court over Federal Firearms Laws

Jersey City, NJ – In a significant move aimed at addressing the ongoing conflict between state and federal cannabis laws, Mayor Steven Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea, along with officials from the Jersey City Police Department (JCPD), have announced the filing of a complaint in federal court. The complaint seeks to challenge the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMMA) on the grounds of federal law preemption.

Despite numerous attempts by Jersey City to address the contentious issue of how New Jersey municipalities can align with the conflicting state and federal laws, the state court has thus far evaded providing clear guidance on this matter.

“Legalization in New Jersey is a good thing, and I have been a vocal supporter from the start. However, that stands separate from this issue we are seeking to address, which is the fact that New Jersey’s CREAMMA law directly conflicts with federal law, exposing Jersey City to tens of millions of dollars in potential liability, compromising public safety, and jeopardizing police officers’ careers statewide,” said Mayor Fulop.

The root of the issue stems from the conflict between New Jersey’s CREAMMA law, which legalizes the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes within the state, and federal law, which maintains a strict prohibition on marijuana use. This conflict came to a head when five JCPD officers tested positive for a Schedule 1 drug, including marijuana and THC, during mandated drug tests. As per federal law, this rendered them ineligible to carry firearms, a requirement for all police officers in New Jersey.

The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits individuals who are unlawful users of controlled substances, as defined by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, from possessing firearms or ammunition. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has consistently affirmed that federal firearms law still prohibits marijuana use, given its classification as a Schedule 1 narcotic.

Director Shea explained, “As soon as marijuana was legalized in New Jersey, we immediately notified all of our police officers that anyone who uses cannabis cannot possess a firearm, and we cannot legally provide them ammunition. We have spoken to the State and Civil Service at every turn. We pursued all the necessary avenues to get this corrected. There are no facts in dispute on this. It should be as simple as a federal judge clarifying the conflicting laws so that local governments throughout the State know how to comply.”

The lack of clarity in resolving this issue has prompted Jersey City to take this matter to federal court, seeking resolution and guidance to ensure compliance with the law while protecting the interests of municipalities, police officers, and residents across New Jersey. The challenge underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to address the legal conflicts arising from cannabis legalization in various states and its implications for federal regulations.