Marijuana Laws in New Jersey

This article reviews the use of marijuana in the State of New Jersey. We look at current regulations that govern recreational and medical marijuana possession.

7
minute read

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Cannabis is considered a Schedule 1 substance on a federal level. In NJ, marijuana is legal for medical use but not for recreational use. Possession of marijuana is illegal in the Garden State with harsh repercussions to those caught in possession of it.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Is Marijuana Legal in New Jersey?

Yes and no. Marijuana is legal for medical use and illegal for recreational use throughout New Jersey.

In January of 2010, Governor Jon Corzine signed into law Senate Bill 119, also called the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, or CUMMAt. [1] This legislation allows for possession and use of medical marijuana in the state. After much debate, the NJ State Legislature ruled that modern medical research verified beneficial use for marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating conditions.

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For this reason, participation is limited to patients with proper identification, a prescription written by a medical professional, and a medical marijuana card. Without this card, you will be penalized for having marijuana on you, even if it’s only a personal amount. Further, only two ounces of medicinal marijuana can be prescribed to a patient in a 30-day time period. And THC levels must not exceed 10%.

It should be noted that marijuana is NOT decriminalized in New Jersey as it is in other states. This means laws are strict. Penalties for possession of marijuana are significantly severe. Still, there have been recent pushes for legalization of recreational marijuana. With that in mind, some of the laws mentioned in this article may change within the next few years.

Cannabinoid Oil

There’s another form of cannabis, often referred to as marijuana’s “cousin”, known as hemp. This plant has been used to extract the chemical compound cannabinoid oil, or CBD. Unlike marijuana, CBD won’t get you high. The psychoactive ingredient THC is barely found within it and is present at only 0.3% or less in the oil. [2] This past December, the Farm Bill of 2018 was passed through Congress, allowing hemp to be legally grown throughout the United States. [3] With the passage of this law, you’re allowed to purchase and sell cannabinoid oil products in the U.S.

Though the medical properties of CBD still aren’t understood completely, there are a number of health benefits for people with chronic illness. CBD oil is used for a number of conditions. These include:

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  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraine
  • Tourette’s Syndrome

It’s important to note that many people aren’t aware of recent law changes. And due to hemp’s similar appearance to marijuana, there are still a number of cases when the two are confused. In fact, people are arrested for possession of marijuana, even if they only have hemp on them. With that in mind, it’s vital you are careful with any hemp-based plant or CBD-based product.

Marijuana Laws in New Jersey

Under New Jersey Code Section 24:21-1, marijuana is still viewed as a Schedule I controlled substance. If you are in possession of marijuana in NJ, you will be charged and penalized for possession of a Substance I drug. [4] Schedule I drugs are thought to have no medical value and come with high risks of addiction.

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There are exceptions to this rule, however. The following people can possess or carry marijuana in NJ for personal use:

  • Patients who participate in state-sponsored medical programs.
  • Patients with proper medical marijuana identification.
  • Parents whose children are minors and possess proper medical marijuana identification.

Other than that, there are no exceptions to having marijuana on your person. If you are in possession of under 50 grams, you can expect the minimum amount of penalties … while distributing over 25 pounds of the drug will earn you the maximum amount of penalties. So, even though the state’s legislature may soon make marijuana legal, this doesn’t mean it’s okay to possess it while it remains illegal.

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Penalties for Possession in NJ

The following penalties may be charged for people in possession of marijuana. There are certain circumstances during which penalties can increase. These include if you’re caught in a school zone and/or selling to a minor.

Under 50 grams: You’re considered a “disorderly person” and you risk up to 6 months in jail, fines of up to $1,000 and up to 100 hours of community service if you are caught in possession of this amount of weed in New Jersey.

Over 50 grams: You’re considered a felon and risk up to 18 months in jail and fines of up to $25,000 if you are caught in possession of this amount of weed in New Jersey.

Penalties for Marijuana Trafficking in NJ

The following penalties are recognized for those selling marijuana. There are a number of different circumstances which will lead law enforcement to believe you’re selling. These include holding trafficking equipment, such as scales or baggies, or being in possession of a large amount of cash. The penalties for selling, producing, or distributing marijuana include:

Less than 1 ounce: A 4th-degree crime, 18 months in jail, fines of up to $25,000.

1 ounce to 5 pounds: A 3rd-degree crime, 3 to 5 years in prison, fines of up to $25,000.

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5 to 25 pounds: A 2nd-degree crime, 5 to 10 years in prison, fines of up to $150,000.

Over 25 pounds: A 1st-degree crime, 10 to 20 years in prison, fines of up to $300,000.

If you are found to be the leader of a narcotics trafficking network, you risk life in prison with at least 25 years minimum before parole, and/or fines of up to $500,000.

You might also face a number of other penalties if you are found to be trafficking or selling weed in NJ. These penalties are sentenced on a case to case basis. Therefore, no two people will end up with the same consequences. Furthermore, a judge may not tell you of these penalties. For many people, they don’t realize all the repercussions of a felony until after they’ve completed their sentence. This can include.

  • Inability to obtain certain employment.
  • Inability to obtain certain types of government employment.
  • Inability to qualify for certain types of college scholarship or financial aid.
  • Inability to qualify for public housing.
  • Inability to receive state license or certification.
  • Possible community service.
  • Possible enrollment in drug treatment programs.
  • Probation.
  • Suspension of your driver’s license.

In order to get a better sense of possible charges, penalties, and final sentencing on marijuana charges in New Jersey, you’ll want to speak to a lawyer.

Marijuana DUI

When you receive a marijuana DUI, it is processed like an alcohol DUI. The only difference is you risk facing more severe penalties if you are also caught in possession of marijuana.

It’s important to note that a police officer’s test for a marijuana DUI differently than an alcohol DUI. Instead of testing your blood alcohol count, s/he will ask you to step out of your vehicle and take a coordination test.

Keeping the above penalties in mind, you also risk the following penalties for a marijuana DUI in the state of New Jersey:

First Offense Marijuana DUI

  • Fines between $250 and $500.
  • Jail time for up to 30 days.
  • License suspension for 3 months to 1 year.
  • Potential community service.
  • Participation in substance abuse programs.

Second Offense Marijuana DUI

  • Fines between $500 and $1,000.
  • Jail time for up to 90 days.
  • License suspension for up to 2 years.
  • Potential community service.
  • Participation in substance abuse programs.

Third Offense Marijuana DUI

  • Fines of up to $1,000.
  • Jail time for up to 180 days.
  • License suspension for up to 10 years.
  • Potential community service.
  • Participation in substance abuse programs.

Other Marijuana DUI Penalties

In addition to the above-mentioned fines, you also risk the following fines and responsibilities for a DUI charge:

  • Driving Courses
  • $100 Intoxicated Driver Program fee.
  • $100 Motor Vehicle Restoration fee.
  • $100 Surcharge for drunk driving enforcement fund.
  • $100 State and Municipality fee.

Finally, it’s helpful to know about the statute of limitations for DUI in the state. The state of New Jersey measures out offenses within a 10-year time period. So, in order to receive a 2nd or 3rd-offense, you must have received your prior offense in the 10 years prior. If you have gone 10 years since your last offense, you’ll be charged only with a first-offense DUI.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Yes! Just like any psychoactive substance, marijuana triggers both physical and psychological dependence. [6]

There are many out there who will claim that marijuana is not addictive. However, science has shows evidence of risk for physical and psychological dependence. Especially in chronic smokers.

For example, people who smoke on a daily basis will find themselves experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they were to suddenly stop using marijuana. These symptoms occur because the brain and body adapt to THC. Upon cessation or lowered dose, the brain needs time to return to its natural state of function. Though marijuana withdrawal isn’t as strong as other drugs, it can be uncomfortable.

This is especially true for symptoms related to mood and mental state. Many people find that they need marijuana in order to handle life stress and to balance out their emotions. If someone were to suddenly stop using marijuana, they can expect to feel the following psychological withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Concentration
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Sleep problems

Then there’s the physical side of addiction. Many chronic users find it difficult to sleep without marijuana. Others will tell you they lose their appetite without the help of the substance. This is due to the body becoming adjusted to marijuana’s main chemical compound, THC. Physical withdrawal symptoms common with marijuana include:

  • Aggression
  • Cravings
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Raise in body temperature
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating

If you or anyone you love is struggling with a marijuana addiction, there is help available.

Marijuana Treatment

When you smoke marijuana, the “high” tends to be unique to you Very few people will experience the same high. The same can be said for those who go through marijuana treatment. Reputable treatment facilities recognize this.

As you search for the right treatment, you may run into a few that claim “one size fits all”. If so, steer clear and keep your eyes peeled for facilities that understand the difference in everyone’s treatment experience. Still, there are five basic steps when it comes to marijuana treatment. Each step is meant to aid you in both withdrawals and the cravings which inevitably follow. These steps include:

1. Medical Assessment

A reputable facility will evaluate your medical condition and family history in order to provide you with a treatment that fits YOUR needs. You can expect to receive assessments that include an interview period and drug tests. Furthermore, if you’re experiencing any mental health condition, it’s important to bring it up at this time. A reputable facility will have the ability to treat both marijuana addiction and mental illness.

2. Detox

As mentioned, people who quit marijuana might experience withdrawal symptoms. In order to properly rid the body of THC, you’ll want to enter a medically supervised detox. It should be noted that not everyone will need to go through this step.

3. Psychological Treatment

The most important stage of marijuana treatment is identifying the psychological problems at the root of it. Rehabs use a variety of psychotherapies to uncover why you need weed to get through the day. Most notably, talk therapies are effective. The purpose of these therapies is to help you change the thoughts, patterns, and beliefs that trigger use. In turn, you learn that you no longer need marijuana to cope with life.

4. Educational Sessions

During treatment, it’s important to understand how THC and marijuana affect the brain. Therefore, you’ll be asked to join a variety of education sessions. The purpose of these is to educate you about drug use. The idea is that education is prevention for future relapse. You’ll also be taught the dangers and penalties which can arise from marijuana addiction.

5. Supportive Services

Most marijuana treatment facilities offer supportive following your treatment. These include vocational training, housing assistance, financial assistance, legal assistance, and medical assistance. Just as with detox, not everyone will need supportive services.

Views on Marijuana

In the state of New Jersey, there a number of different views on marijuana. Some people support the legalization of weed, while others still find it to be a dangerous substance. As mentioned, the state is moving towards legalization like many other states across the nation. With that in mind, the laws mentioned here may change in the near future.

Your Questions

This article aimed to answer all your questions surrounding marijuana laws in New Jersey.

Still have more questions?

Feel free to ask them in the comments section below. If you have further information on New Jersey’s marijuana laws or advice to give for people with a marijuana charge, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to reply to each comment in a prompt and personal manner.

Reference Sources: [1] Senate, No. 119 – State of New Jersey – 213th Legislature
[2] US National Library of Medicine: An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol
[3] United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry
[4] State Board of Medical Examiners Laws
[5] Driving While Intoxicated – New Jersey Laws and Penalties
[6] National Institute on Drug Abuse – Is marijuana addictive?
New Jersey Department of Health: Medical Marijuana Rules
New Jersey State Attorney Genearl Medical Marijuana Enforcement Guidelines for Police:
New Jersey: The Medical Use of Marijuana Chapter 307
New Jersey Health And Senior Services Public Health Services Branch Environmental And Occupational Health Services Division Medicinal Marijuana Program: Final Rules
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.

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