Possession of Marijuana Charges in New Jersey
In New Jersey, possession of marijuana for non-medicinal purposes is still illegal under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.
2C:35-10. Possession, Use or Being Under the Influence, or Failure to Make Lawful Disposition.
a. It is unlawful for any person, knowingly or purposely, to obtain, or to possess, actually or constructively, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog, unless the substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order form from a practitioner, while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-1 et seq.). Any person who violates this section with respect to:
(4) Possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, or five grams or less of hashish is a disorderly person.
b. Any person who uses or who is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance, or its analog, for a purpose other than the treatment of sickness or injury as lawfully prescribed or administered by a physician is a disorderly person.
The penalties in New Jersey for possessing under 50 grams of marijuana include up to 6 months of jail and a fine of $1,000.
A possession of marijuana charge starts with an arrest. After arrest, the person is taken to the police station for processing. Bail may be set by a municipal court judge for a defendant’s release. The police should have provided to the defendant a copy of the charges and a summons. The summons advises the defendant to appear in court for a preliminary arraignment.
During a preliminary arraignment, the municipal court judge advises a defendant of the possession of marijuana charges and the potential penalties. The court also explains that the defendant has the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent and the right to cross-examine witnesses at a trial. Another court date will be given. The defendant will be given time to hire an attorney.
The next steps in the case involve review of police reports, video tape recordings and laboratory reports concerning the alleged marijuana. Then, legal motions will be filed challenging the constitutionality of the police actions. Additionally, a thorough review of the laboratory findings must be conducted.
Depending upon the criminal record of the defendant, he or she may be eligible for the New Jersey conditional discharge program. If not, then the attorney must start preparing the case for a trial.