While New Jersey has legalized medical and recreational use of marijuana for adults over age 21, there are still several laws on the books that establish marijuana-related crimes. As a result, while you can’t be prosecuted for possessing or using a small amount of marijuana in private if you are 21 or older, it is still possible to face a variety of other marijuana-related charges. If you are facing any of these charges, you need to take your case seriously, and this starts with hiring an experienced New Jersey drug lawyer to represent you.
So, what are New Jersey’s marijuana laws? When can you be charged with a marijuana-related crime in New Jersey? Here is an overview of some of the offenses that can lead to fines, jail time and other penalties:
Legal Medical and Recreational Marijuana in New Jersey
We’ll start by clarifying what is legal in New Jersey. Under the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization (CREAMM) Act of 2021, it is legal for adults over the age of 21 to purchase and use small amounts of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. As the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission explains, New Jersey residents and visitors can purchase up to one ounce of usable cannabis from a licensed dispensary. This allows the purchase of the following:
- One ounce of dried flower
- Four grams of solid cannabis concentrates or resin
- Four grams of vaporized formulations
- 1,000 milligrams of ingestible cannabis-infused products (i.e., gummies)
You can possess up to six ounces of marijuana for personal use in New Jersey, and smoking marijuana is now legal—though only in private places. While individuals who buy marijuana from a licensed dispensary can gift it to their friends or family, accepting payment is illegal.
Marijuana Offenses in New Jersey
As you can see, while New Jersey’s CREAMM Act legalizes marijuana to an extent, it still allows the state to maintain tight control over the sale, possession and use of cannabis and cannabis-infused products. With this in mind, all of the following are still prohibited under New Jersey law:
Smoking or Vaping Marijuana in Public
As noted above, while smoking marijuana is now legal in New Jersey, it is only legal to smoke in private places. The same applies to vaping. Under New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act, smoking or vaping marijuana in public is a civil violation that carries a fine of $250 to $1,000.
Possession of Marijuana on School Grounds
While possessing up to six ounces of marijuana is generally legal in New Jersey, it is illegal to possess any amount of marijuana on elementary or secondary school grounds. Possessing marijuana on school grounds is a disorderly persons offense that carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine (as long as you are caught with six ounces or less).
Possession of More than Six Ounces of Marijuana
Possessing more than six ounces of marijuana is a fourth-degree indictable offense in New Jersey. This means that it carries up to 18 months in prison and a $25,000 fine. It is illegal to possess more than six ounces of marijuana in New Jersey for any purpose—including both medicinal and recreational use. If you are caught possessing more than six ounces of marijuana on school grounds, you can face additional fines and community service.
Distribution of Marijuana – Less Than One Ounce
Distribution of less than one ounce of marijuana (other than gifting marijuana to a friend or family member) carries a warning for a first-time offense. However, if you get caught distributing marijuana more than once, distribution of any amount is a fourth-degree indictable offense carrying up to 18 months in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Distribution of Marijuana – One Ounce to Five Pounds
Even though it is legal to possess up to six ounces of marijuana for medicinal or recreational use in New Jersey, distributing any more than one ounce is an extremely serious crime. Under New Jersey law, distributing anywhere from one ounce to five pounds of marijuana is a third-degree indictable offense that carries three to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Distribution of Marijuana – Five Pounds or More
Distributing five pounds or more of marijuana is an even more serious offense. Distributing up to 25 pounds is a second-degree indictable crime that carries 5 to 10 years of prison time and a $150,000 fine. Distributing 25 pounds or more is a first-degree indictable crime that carries 10 to 20 years and a fine of $300,000. In this case, 10 years is the mandatory minimum.
Sale of Marijuana Within 500 Feet of a Public Park or Public Housing Area
Special rules apply to distributing marijuana in certain locations. For example, if you get arrested for selling any amount of marijuana within 500 feet of a public park or public housing area, you will minimally be facing a third-degree charge carrying three to five years in prison and a substantial fine.
Sale of Marijuana Within 1,000 Feet of School Property
Selling less than an ounce of marijuana within 1,000 feet of school property in New Jersey is also a third-degree crime. Selling more than an ounce within 1,000 feet of school property is a second-degree offense that carries five to 10 years and a fine of $150,000.
Illegal Marijuana Cultivation in New Jersey
While some states that have legalized marijuana have also legalized home cultivation, New Jersey has not—at least not yet. Currently, cultivating your own marijuana in New Jersey is either a third, second or first-degree indictable offense depending on the number of plants you have in your home.
Discuss Your Marijuana Case with an Experienced New Jersey Drug Lawyer
Have you been charged with a marijuana-related offense in New Jersey? The law recognizes a difference between sharing marijuana and selling marijuana. However, a police officer may not recognize the distinction. This fact can make the difference between going to jail or not. It is important that you speak with a lawyer about your case as soon as possible. To speak with an experienced New Jersey drug lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. in confidence, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online today.