NJ Marijuana Law
Weed, cannabis, doobie, and ganja are just a few of the 1,200 or more terms that also mean marijuana. It all seems like fun and games until you find yourself on the wrong side of the laws concerning this contentious plant.
The conversations about whether or not to legalize marijuana are occurring daily in households, hospitals and government hallways. No matter what side of the issue you are on, it’s crucial to learn all you can about NJ marijuana law.
A brief history of marijuana laws in the U.S.
Cannabis cultivation dates back to colonial times. From the 1850s to the 1940s, marijuana was readily available in American pharmacies. It was a treatment for ailments such as nausea, labor pains and rheumatism.
The federal government first regulated marijuana use in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act. This is due to the belief that taxing and regulating a drug was more publically acceptable than prohibiting it altogether. The Act essentially banned the sale or possession of marijuana. Stricter laws followed, leading to the Boggs Act in 1952. This attached harsh penalties and mandatory sentences to several drugs, including marijuana.
Then, in 1970, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, which placed drugs into various categories based on their perceived medical usefulness. President Nixon insisted that marijuana be listed as a Schedule 1 drug, which meant it had no medical use and it was severely restricted. This had more to do with the counterculture associated with marijuana use than its medicinal benefits.
This classification made it almost impossible for even physicians to acquire it for scientific research or medical development. In terms of law, marijuana is in the same grouping as drugs such as LSD and heroin.
In 1996, California became the first state to legalize its use for medical purposes. Since then, 29 additional states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Guam have put some type of marijuana law on the books regarding its medical use. Every other state is raising discussions about it as citizens on both sides make their opinions heard.
Marijuana in the U.S. today
Today, it has proven instrumental for alleviating the debilitating symptoms of those suffering from certain cancers, glaucoma, PTSD, AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Eight states and Washington, D.C have voted to legalize it for recreational use.
Since it still technically is classified to have no medicinal value, marijuana has not been researched and extensively studied like other drugs brought to the market. As a result, there is no consistency regarding its potency or quality and no studies concerning the possibility of any negative health effects from the chemical compounds found in marijuana smoke.
Federal law and marijuana
Citizen support at the state level has been extremely influential in the push to legalize marijuana. Although numerous states have some form of laws concerning marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law.
It is also important to note that federal law trumps state laws. Therefore, a federal law enforcement officer can still arrest you for possession of any amount of marijuana, even in states that have approved its use for medicinal and recreational purposes. For instance, you can be arrested if you have marijuana in a national park or the National Mall.
In addition, it is illegal to grow and promote marijuana, according to the federal government. Also, bringing marijuana into this country from abroad or transporting it across state lines would likely bring federal crime charges. Use of the U.S. mail to commit such a crime is a federal offense and land you in federal court.
NJ marijuana law concerning:
Possession – there are mandatory minimum penalties for non-medical possession of marijuana in New Jersey. For less than 50 grams, the penalty is up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. You could also get 100 hours of community service. If you are in possession of marijuana near a school, it will net you an additional fine. Having two ounces of marijuana, without doctor’s consent, is a felony punishable by up to 18 months of jail time.
Use – New Jersey allows marijuana for medical use. With a doctor’s recommendation, you can have up to two ounces per month.
Selling and distribution – selling less than one ounce of marijuana is a fourth-degree crime, serious enough for an 18 month jail sentence and a $25,000 fine. For five pounds or less, it’s a 3-5 year prison term. Selling 5-25 pounds will result in a possible 5-10 year jail sentence and a $150,000 fine. The consequences for more than 25 pounds are 10-20 years in prison and a $300,000 fine.
Trafficking – if you are found to be the leader of a trafficking network, you can expect a sentence of 25 years before you can even be eligible for parole and a $500,000 fine.
What you need to know about NJ marijuana law
- Approximately 60 percent of NJ citizens favor the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, according to a poll conducted by Rutgers University and the Eagleton Institute.
- The pharmaceutical industry, as well as drug and alcohol rehab centers have fought marijuana legalization efforts in every state.
- Studies show that, although blacks and whites use marijuana at the same rate, blacks are three times more likely to be arrested and convicted.
- New Jersey law enforcement spends approximately $143 million each year to enforce the state’s marijuana laws.
- Nine out of ten arrests made in New Jersey for marijuana involve users, not dealers.
In the state’s war on drugs, the laws are constantly changing. This is due to new legislations, rulings in higher courts and ballot initiatives.
If you are under arrest for marijuana charges, hire a qualified New Jersey attorney, it is your best option to avoid jail and penalties. The Law offices of Marc A. Futterweit understand NJ marijuana law, know relevant changes and can provide the best defense to protect you.