Marijuana arrest in Bergen County highlights loophole in ‘legal pot’ law

Miami residents Michael T. Means, 34, and Chanel Montgomery, 32, were arrested on drug charges and released pending appearances in court in Hackensack after police found marijuana in the vehicle in which they were riding.

Leonia Police Sgt. Ray Forsdahl stopped the couple in a 2014 Chevrolet Malibu after Means, the driver, ran a red light at the intersection of Broad Avenue and Fort Lee Road around 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Leonia Police Chief Scott Tamagny said Forsdahl could see more than seven pounds of marijuana in plain view and requested a Bergen County sheriff’s K-9 unit and additional backup.

Authorities also found $11,000 in suspected proceeds from the illicit sale of drugs in the sedan.

Voters overwhelmingly supported legalizing recreational marijuana in November, 2020, but the law that Governor Phil Murphy ultimately signed—known as the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act — left in place prison sentences of up to 20 years for possession of pot while decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and hashish.

Legalizing and regulating limited cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years and older has come with strings attached that will guarantee a lucrative business for wealthy investors but the fundamental injustice of locking up people remains as much a part of New Jersey as the incredibly unjust racial segregation in our public schools.

Murphy campaigned for Governor on a platform of legalizing marijuana but a Florida couple is looking at a potentially long jail sentence because he does not keep his promises.

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