Possession of Marijuana

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New Jersey Marijuana Defense Lawyer

No doubt you have heard that using recreational marijuana is now legal in New Jersey. Unfortunately, that does not apply in all situations.

Despite the legalization and decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana, both marijuana and hashish are still defined as “controlled dangerous substances” under the New Jersey Statutes Annotated (N.J.S.A.) 2C:35-2. In addition, federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, and it still criminalizes the possession of marijuana for both personal and medicinal use, despite the state laws. 

You can still face drug charges for selling, buying, growing, and possessing marijuana in New Jersey. Jail terms can be as long as 20 years for marijuana offenses, fines can be as high as $300,000, and you could be stuck with a criminal record that will cause problems for you for the rest of your life. It is important to become aware of exactly where the line between legal and illegal has been drawn in the new laws. 

If you are facing a marijuana criminal charge, you should talk to a knowledgeable marijuana lawyer at our law firm, Breslow Law Offices, immediately. The attorneys at Breslow Law Offices have helped tens of thousands of clients fight marijuana charges. They have assisted countless clients in having their marijuana cases dismissed outright, as well as through enrollment in a diversionary program such as conditional discharge. 

To speak with an attorney at Breslow Law Offices about how he can help you to successfully resolve your marijuana charges and expunge your criminal record to erase any record of your arrest, contact their office anytime. The damage to your case can be severe if you wait too long to get the legal help you need. Do not take that chance!

Call us at 973-239-8000 for a comprehensive evaluation of your possession of marijuana charge.

What Are the New Marijuana Laws in New Jersey?

The marijuana laws changed on February 22, 2021, when New Jersey’s Gov. Phil Murphy signed three bills into law. The new laws created the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which has the authority to implement the new marijuana laws, oversee the medical marijuana industry, and issue rules that regulate marijuana for personal non-medical use. As of this writing, the Commission has just been established. It will be creating rules that will affect your marijuana use. In this quickly changing legal landscape, you should consult a marijuana defense lawyer if you have any questions.

Under the new laws, despite the decriminalization of the possession of less than 6 ounces of marijuana, there are still penalties for the distribution and possession of marijuana, and these are based on the weight of the marijuana involved. The new marijuana laws affect everyone in New Jersey who buys, sells, or uses marijuana for personal use. 

P.L. 2021, c16 The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement, Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act legalizes regulated cannabis.

P.L. 2021, c19 decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana and hashish and establishes new lighter penalties for distribution.

P.L. 2021, c25 contains penalties for people younger than 21 using or possessing marijuana or cannabis.

P.L. 2021, c38 contains provisions for notifying guardians of minors caught using or possessing marijuana, hashish, or alcohol.

New Jersey Marijuana Laws: N.J.S.A. 2C: 35-5 Manufacturing, Distributing or Dispensing

Distributing marijuana is still a crime. Some of the penalties have changed, but many have not. The penalties can be found now in P.L. 2021, chapter 16 and will be incorporated into N.J.S.A. 2C: 35-5 when the amended version becomes available. The penalties depend on the weight of the marijuana.

  • Distributing 25 pounds or more of marijuana, 50 or more marijuana plants, or 5 pounds or more of hashish is a crime of the first degree with a fine of up to $300,000 and/or 10-20 years in prison. (2C:35-5(b)10(a))
  • Distributing 5 pounds or more of marijuana but less than 25 pounds, 10-50 marijuana plants, or 1-5 pounds of hashish is a crime of the second degree with a fine of up to $150,000 and/or 5-10 years in prison. (2C:35-5(b)10(b))
  • Distributing more than 1 ounce but less than 5 pounds or 5 grams-to-1 pound of hashish, is a crime of the third degree with a fine of up to $25,000 and/or 3-5 years in prison. (2C:35-5(b)11(b))
  • For distributing 1 ounce or less of marijuana or 5 grams or less of hashish, if it is a first offense, you will get a written warning, but repeat offenders will be charged with a crime of the fourth degree and be subject to a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to 18 months in prison. (2C:35-5(b)12(b))

Penalties for Marijuana Possession in New Jersey

Possession of 6 ounces or less of marijuana or 17 grams or less of hashish for personal use is not a crime under New Jersey’s new marijuana laws.

However, you should be aware that possessing more than 6 ounces of marijuana or more than 17 grams of hashish for personal use is a crime of the fourth degree. You can face possession charges for these amounts where the penalties are fines of up to $25,000 and/or prison sentences of up to 18 months. 

If you possess marijuana in a school zone or on a school bus, you will have to perform at least 100 hours of community service.

There are also special underage laws that will apply to you if you are under the age of 21 and possess or use any amount of marijuana, hashish, or alcohol in a public place. The penalties depend on whether you are under the age of 18 and whether this is a first, second, or subsequent offense. Penalties include written warnings, notifications to parents or guardians, and referral to community treatment. Possession of more than 6 ounces of marijuana or 17 grams of hashish is a fourth-degree offense.

The old rules regarding possession of 50 grams of marijuana or less have been replaced by the laws that legalize 6 ounces or less.

Your Rights Under New Jersey’s New Marijuana Laws

The new marijuana laws give you new rights. If a law enforcement officer violates your rights under these new laws, you should contact a NJ marijuana defense attorney immediately. This is a serious matter. Under New Jersey law, the officer may be charged with the crime of deprivation of civil rights if they violate these laws that protect you.

It is no longer a crime to:

  • Be under the influence of marijuana or hashish. (2C:35-10(b))
  • Fail to properly dispose of marijuana or hashish. (2C:35-10(c))
  • Possess drug paraphernalia that you are using or intend to use for marijuana or hashish. (2C:36-2)
  • Possess marijuana or hashish if you are a motor vehicle operator. (39:4-49.1 )

Police are prohibited from taking certain actions:

  • Police cannot search, arrest, detain, or take you into custody solely for distributing 1 ounce of marijuana or less or possessing any amount of marijuana. 
    • However, this does not apply if there are signs of distribution of a larger amount of marijuana or of another crime. 
    • Police are also allowed to seize the marijuana even if they cannot charge you for it.
  • Police cannot use the odor of marijuana or hashish as a reason to stop and search you to determine if you are distributing 1 ounce or less or possessing any amount of marijuana.

FAQs

  • Is weed legal In New Jersey? 
    • Adults age 21 and above may possess up to 6 ounces of marijuana for personal use and may purchase up to 1 ounce of marijuana from a licensed retail distributor.
  • What areas prohibit cannabis consumption? 
    • You are not allowed to smoke or vape marijuana in any place where cigarette smoking is banned, including workplaces, parks, and beaches. You can’t use marijuana on the grounds of schools, from elementary schools to universities. Landlords and other property owners have the right to ban smoking and vaping on their premises.
  • Can I grow my own marijuana in New Jersey?
    • It is illegal to grow marijuana in New Jersey unless you get a cannabis cultivator’s license. Penalties are severe — up to a $300,000 fine and 20 years in prison.

Charged for Marijuana Distribution in New Jersey? Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

You can still be charged with a crime of the first, second, third, or fourth degree in New Jersey for distributing marijuana or hashish even under the new laws. You could face jail time of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $300,000.

You must contact a lawyer immediately if you are facing marijuana charges to ensure that your rights are protected. We have over 45 years of criminal defense experience and are proud to be the most trusted criminal defense firm in New Jersey. 

Contact the New Jersey marijuana defense attorneys at Breslow Law Offices at 973-239-8000 today for a free consultation to discuss your case.