Recreational marijuana has now been legal in New Jersey for three years.

And because of bills signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2021, more than 100,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana have been avoided, according to advocates.

The group NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) held an event in Trenton on Thursday to mark the occasion.

"I'm very glad to see those days behind us," said Evan Nison, vice chair of National NORML's board of directors. "Possession arrests were one of the most egregious aspects of prohibition and that's why today is a cause for celebration."

In 2018, then-Attorney General Gurbir Grewal had issued a memo that marijuana prosecutions be suspended, but police still kept making arrests, advocates said.

And in November 2020, voters approved the legalization of recreational weed by a two-to-one margin in the November 2020 election.

When Murphy signed a series of cannabis bills on Feb. 22, 2021, he also ordered an immediate stop to police actions involving a few grams of marijuana.

According to advocates, police in New Jersey prior to 2021 were arresting about 100 people per day for "simple possession" of marijuana. That's a bigger number than the count of arrests for all other substances, combined.

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