In 2020, 1.16 million Americans were arrested for drug-related offenses. If you violate drug laws, you can face massive fines and even substantial prison time, depending on the severity of your offense. If you are ever arrested for a drug violation, it is critical to have an experienced and effective legal defense team. Drug laws are a major part of our criminal justice system, so it is important for all residents of our state to understand New Jersey drug laws. The Law Office of Andrew S. Maze has compiled this guide to New Jersey drug law to educate the public about this legal topic.
Federal Drug Laws and New Jersey
State-level New Jersey drug laws are based upon the drug laws and regulations of the federal government. Most notable of these is the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, which organized drugs into five “schedules” based on their potential for abuse and medical benefit. New Jersey uses the federal controlled substances scheduling system as the basis for their drug restrictions and punishments.
Schedule I Controlled Substances, like Heroin and LSD, are considered to have no medical benefit and a very high risk of abuse, so they are heavily restricted and criminalized. Marijuana is also considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government, but it has been approved for medical use, decriminalized, and outright legalized by numerous states, including New Jersey (see below).
Schedule II Controlled Substances are also considered to have a high potential for abuse, but they are considered to have legitimate medical uses, as well. Many drugs in this category can be prescribed by doctors, including Adderall and OxyContin, but this schedule also includes illegal drugs, like cocaine.
Schedule III substances include drugs with less potential for abuse, but that can lead to moderate dependence, like ketamine and testosterone.
Schedule IV and Schedule V consist of prescription drugs that are safer and less restricted than drugs in the higher schedules.
New Jersey Drug Laws
According to state-level New Jersey drug laws, possession of illegal Schedule I and II drugs is usually either a felony or a third-degree crime. It is also very important to note that just because a drug, like Adderall or OxyContin, is available by prescription does not make it legal to possess without a prescription.
Factors that impact the severity of a drug offense in this state include the kind of drug and its scheduling, the quantity in your possession, the place of the arrest, and whether or not there is proof of sales. Under New Jersey’s drug distribution laws, if you are caught with an amount of drugs that exceeds the legal definition of “personal use,” you can be charged with an intent to distribute. Intent to distribute charges are felonies that carry stiff penalties. The location in which you are arrested can also worsen your legal situation. If you are charged with the intent to distribute and you were caught in a school zone or car, you will face additional penalties.
New Jersey Marijuana Policy
New Jersey legalized recreational use of cannabis for anyone over the age of 21 in November 2020, but the drug is still heavily regulated in this state. The possession of more than 6 ounces of marijuana is still a crime that can result in an 18-month prison sentence or $25,000 fine. It is also still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana or to transport the drug across state lines. Only licensed cannabis dispensaries are allowed to sell the drug, and it is illegal and heavily criminalized for anyone else to do so. However, it is legal to gift up to 1 ounce of cannabis to another person who is 21 years of age or older. If you are considering smoking marijuana, it is a good idea to study New Jersey marijuana laws so you can remain in compliance with them.
The Law Office of Andrew S. Maze
If you are ever arrested for a drug-related offense, you need the best legal defense possible. The Law Office of Andrew S. Maze has over 25 years of experience fighting drug charges in New Jersey. If you ever need a drug possession or drug sales defense attorney, call us!