New Jersey has a strong record of arresting more people for marijuana possession than almost any other state. In 2017, a whopping 34,501 people were taken into custody for being in possession of marijuana. With many states pushing for the legalization of medical and recreational use of marijuana, New Jersey has recently passed a bill decriminalizing small amounts of the drug.
Traditionally, possession of 50 grams of marijuana or less was considered a disorderly person offense that could lead to an arrest and fines. The new bill was pushed through the state Assembly in early June of 2020 and allows individuals to pay a $50 fine and avoid jail time for carrying up to 50 grams of pot. However, for the time being, possession of marijuana in amounts larger than 50 grams is still considered a crime and may be punishable by a fine of $25,000.00 and jail time.
The state has attempted to pass several bills legalizing pot, but such efforts have failed so far. In 2012, the Assembly voted to decriminalize possession of 12 grams of marijuana, but that bill never became a law. In November 2020, New Jersey voters will have the opportunity to vote on legalizing marijuana.
The new bill decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana still needs to be enacted into law. Until then, the current legislation still applies. Under current law, carrying up to 50 grams of the drug results in a fine of up to $1000 and up to 6 months in jail. Any other items that may have been used to transport or prepare the drug for consumption can be considered drug paraphernalia when seized, resulting in additional charges. Likewise, possession of drugs inside a vehicle can result in a license suspension for up to two years.
Are There Alternatives to Jail Time in Marijuana Possession Cases?
First-time offenders charged with simple possession without the intent to distribute may be eligible for Conditional Discharge, a diversionary program that requires regular drug testing instead of jail time. As long as drug test results are negative, and the individual follows specific rules laid out by the diversionary program, they may be able to have the crime sealed from their record.
As part of the program, an individual will need to agree to be supervised for up to one year, and may or may not have their license suspended.
If you have been charged with marijuana possession in New Jersey and need to know your options to minimize your penalties, contact the Hirschorn Law Drug Crime attorneys as soon as possible. There are many ways our criminal defense attorneys in Jersey City can dispute a drug possession charge or ease the penalties for your case. Contact us at 201-798-4024.