New Jerseyans Charged With Marijuana Possession and Distribution Crimes
In April 2013, five young adults were arrested and charged with dealing in marijuana in central New Jersey. New Jersey Today reports that authorities seized about 50 pounds of the drug along with at least $400,000 in illegal sales profits.
The charges were the culmination of an investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Gangs, Guns and Drugs Task Force, and the defendants are residents of Hazlet, East Brunswick and Hamilton.
Those arrested were charged with the New Jersey state crimes of possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
New Jersey sanctions for marijuana crimes
Currently, New Jersey imposes severe punishments for possessing marijuana, a state Schedule I drug (outside of legal medical prescription. Possession of 50 grams or less is a disorderly person offense subject to a fine up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. Possession of more than 50 grams is a fourth-degree crime subject to a fine up to $25,000 and longer imprisonment. Marijuana possession in a school zone or on a school bus subjects the defendant to at least 100 hours of community service in some cases, in addition to other penalties.
Of course, possession with the intent to distribute may bring stiffer sentences.
Related crimes include marijuana cultivation, possession or sale of drug paraphernalia, failure to surrender marijuana to law enforcement, marijuana distribution, being under the influence of marijuana and more.
Second or subsequent marijuana offenses bring much stiffer imprisonment sentences and higher fines.
New Jersey public opinion
According to The Star-Ledger, a spring 2013 poll by the Drug Policy Alliance of 604 New Jersey registered voters revealed that 61 percent of them supported decriminalizing possession of two ounces or less of marijuana in the state, favoring instead a civil fine, but no jail time. This reportedly reflects opinion trends nationally.
The article quotes the New Jersey Drug Policy Alliance director as saying that in 2010, at least 22,000 people were arrested in the Garden State for possessing marijuana.
There have been failed or stalled New Jersey legislative proposals to decriminalize the possession of smaller amounts of pot, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has reportedly said he would not sign any such bill. So while public opinion and the legislative process slowly evolve, in the meantime, criminal sanctions for possession of marijuana in the state will remain harsh.
Serious criminal defense important
Any New Jerseyan who suspects he or she is under investigation for possessing, buying, selling or trafficking in marijuana, or who has been arrested for or charged with a marijuana crime, should contact an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney as early in the process as possible to plan a vigorous defense. The potential sanctions and other negative consequences are too grim not to.