Following in the footsteps of many other states, New Jersey is proposing legalizing recreational use and possession of marijuana. Medical marijuana is currently dispensed at various locations throughout the state. However, until legislation is actually passed, an individual still faces significant legal and financial consequences if arrested for marijuana possession without a prescription in New Jersey.
The most common marijuana charge is possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana. It is classified as a disorderly persons offense and carries a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and $1,000 in fines. If an individual is accused of smoking marijuana, this charge will most likely be accompanied by possession of drug paraphernalia, also a disorderly persons offense, for the rolling papers, pipe or other device used for delivery.
Fortunately, first time offenders charged with a disorderly persons offense are eligible for a conditional discharge. A conditional discharge is a diversionary program where an individual is placed on probation supervision, usually for one year and subject to drug testing. A conditional discharge does not result in a criminal conviction. If successfully completed, the case is dismissed.
More serious charges resulting from marijuana possession that can be charged in addition to simple possession and possession of paraphernalia include driving a motor vehicle while in possession of drugs and possession within 1,000 feet of a school. Driving a motor a vehicle while in possession of drugs is a charge that carries a mandatory two year loss of driving privileges in additional to a minimum of $50 fine. Possession of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, even if the school is not in session, carries a mandatory minimum100 hours of community service in additional to the other penalties the court may impose.
Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana is a crime in the fourth degree and is an indictable offense charged in criminal court that carries a maximum penalty of eighteen months imprisonment and a fine up to $25,000.
Given the current state of the marijuana possession laws in New Jersey, consultation with an attorney is recommended even if the arrest involves a relatively minor marijuana offense as the charges may result in significant fines, community service, and a loss of driving privileges.
For more information please contact via email James E. Shepard or by phone at 973-538-4700 ext. 120.
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