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How Marijuana Laws Are Changing in New Jersey


8/26/2019

There is no doubt that our country’s attitude toward marijuana is changing. As states legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use, the legal landscape has become somewhat complicated. While New Jersey has made significant efforts to change its marijuana laws in step with other parts of the country, the law remains in a state of flux, and you can still be charged with a serious crime if you are violate the law.

New Jersey criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer helps people who have been charged with marijuana offenses get a fair result. She has the knowledge, skill, and experience to fight for your rights. If you would like to schedule a free consultation about your charges, contact Wimmer Criminal Defense Law today at 215-712-1212.

Medical Marijuana in New Jersey

New Jersey legalized medical marijuana in January of 2010 when Governor Corzine signed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act into law. The law permitted people suffering from specific medical conditions to obtain marijuana for medical use. The conditions listed included any terminal illness, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and inflammatory bowel disease. Legislators and Governor Christie have generally opposed efforts to expand the law, but in 2017, several additional medical conditions were added to the list of qualifying conditions including anxiety, autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, and migraines.

In order to qualify for medical marijuana, you must have your doctor certify that you have one of the qualifying medical conditions. You must then add your name to a registry with the New Jersey Department of Health. Once registered, you can purchase medical marijuana at one of the six alternative treatment centers located in New Jersey.

Attempts to expand the program have largely failed. Enrollment remains small, due to the cost of participating, the limited number of dispensaries, and the small number of doctors who are willing to certify their patients for the program.

Efforts to Legalize Marijuana

Across the country,11 states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational use. Unfortunately, marijuana remains illegal in New Jersey unless you qualify for the medical marijuana program. Legislators have made efforts to legalize marijuana, but the efforts have failed.

In 2017, Senator Scutari proposed legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for people over the age of 21. The bill failed when met with strong opposition from Governor Christie. Once he left office, however, the bill was reintroduced in 2018. Despite widespread support of legalization from both the Governor and the Senate, efforts to legalize marijuana finally collapsed in March of this year because legislators could not agree on the details of the legislation. Despite the failure, many expect there to be a marijuana referendum on the 2020 ballot.

Possession of Marijuana Under Current New Jersey Law

In New Jersey, possession of marijuana will be categorized by how much marijuana you had in your possession. If you were in possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, you will be charged with what is often referred to as simple possession. Simple possession is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, commonly referred to as a misdemeanor in other states. That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t face serious consequences. If convicted, you could face the following penalties:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • Probation with random drug testing
  • A fine of up to $1,000.00
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months.

If you were in possession of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, the judge can add 100 hours of community service to your punishment.

If you were in possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, you should be aware that you are facing a fourth-degree crime under New Jersey law. Fourth-degree crimes are indictable offenses in New Jersey, referred to as felonies in other states. You face the following consequences if convicted:

  • Up to 18 months in New Jersey state prison
  • Fines of up to $25,000.00

Even a simple possession charge can result in jail time, which is something most people simply can’t afford. If you were arrested with more than 50 grams of marijuana, you could go to state prison for more than a year.

Distribution of Marijuana Under Current New Jersey Law

Distribution of marijuana is taken even more seriously in New Jersey. The severity of your charges will depend on the amount of marijuana in your possession at the time you were arrested. If you are charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, you are facing the following penalties if convicted:

  • Less than an ounce: A fourth-degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $25,000.00
  • One ounce to five pounds: A third-degree crime, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $25,000.00
  • Five pounds to 25 pounds: A second-degree crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.00
  • More than 25 pounds: A first-degree crime, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $300,000.00

Note that if you are charged with distribution of less than an ounce of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, you will be charged with a third-degree crime.

Contact Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with a marijuana offense in New Jersey, you’re facing very serious consequences that can change your life forever. You can’t afford to go to jail or pay thousands of dollars in fines. New Jersey criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer will fight for your rights to help you get a fair result. Don’t let the prosecution decide your future – call us at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and discuss how we can help you.