Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s unilateral decision to instruct the city’s prosecutor to decriminalize marijuana in his city was met with a swift rebuke from state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
In a letter noteworthy for its not quite collegial tone, Grewal pointedly instructed municipal prosecutor, Jake Hudnut, to stay in his lane with lines like “… you do not have the legal authority to decriminalize marijuana …”, “The criminal laws of this State are … not determined by municipal prosecutors based on ‘[r]ecent public opinion polling.'” And “I encourage you to contact [county] Prosecutor [Esther] Suarez or my office … if you have any questions about the duties of your office.”
Ouch. That prompted a meeting between Grewal and Hudnut Monday, even as the mayor continued to make the rounds of local TV news shows to promote the new policy.
The mayor says this is about social justice, pointing out that people of color are three times as likely to face arrest for having small amounts of marijuana than their white counterparts. Fulop publicly shook his head at the state intervention, especially in the absence of any action from state lawmakers.
After the meeting, which Fulop did not attend, none of the parties made themselves available for comment despite repeated requests, although a source said they had come to an understanding and were working out details on how to proceed.
Regardless of the outcome of the meeting, until the Legislature comes up with a decriminalization or legalization bill, it’s not unlikely to think other municipalities may decide to take matters into their own hands.