Harsher Marijuana Sentences a Possibility in 2017

Published: Dec 30, 2016 in Criminal Defense, Drug Charges

In recent years, marijuana has received a lot of national attention because of numerous successful state-level initiatives to decriminalize its use. However, many of these state initiatives are headed for a collision course with federal law, which still classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance –the highest level of restriction reserved for substances with minimal medical uses and the most potential for addiction and other harmful effects. New Jersey is no different. The state’s legislature legalized the use of medical marijuana nearly seven years ago; however, to remain consistent with federal law, New Jersey still maintains marijuana under its schedule 1 classification. Recent court filings indicate that the state is not willing to reconsider its position, which means that harsh marijuana sentences are likely in 2017.

New Jersey aggressively prosecutes drug crimes involving “controlled dangerous substances” (CDS) such as marijuana based on how it classifies drugs. Drug convictions may result in substantial prison terms and significant fines, especially if they involve schedule 1 substances.

If you are facing drug charges in Jersey City, you should call Bhatt Law Group for help. Our firm has experienced Jersey City criminal defense attorneys who have helped dozens of people successfully defend against drug charges.

Don’t hesitate to call us at (201) 798-8000 for a free initial consultation so we can help you protect your rights.

New Jersey Appeals Court Asked to Reconsider Marijuana Penalties

Last November, a New Jersey appeals court was petitioned to order the state to reclassify marijuana in light of its medical marijuana program. The petition argued that it was contradictory for the state to recognize marijuana’s medical benefits, but at the same time, maintain its classification as a schedule 1 drug, a list which includes heroin. Meanwhile, other drugs, such as cocaine, with little to no medicinal value fall into less restrictive schedule 2 and 3 classes.

Under New Jersey’s Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act, patients who use marijuana to alleviate suffering from debilitating medical conditions like epilepsy and other seizure disorders, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Crohn’s disease, are protected from state criminal prosecution and penalties. The law also protects these patients’ physicians, primary caregivers, and those authorized to produce marijuana for these protected medical purposes.

Ultimately, state attorneys opposed the petition to change New Jersey’s classification of marijuana. They based this position on the federal government’s refusal to change the federal categorization of marijuana as a schedule 1 drug despite numerous petitions since its original classification in 1970. Additionally, state attorneys argued that other states with medical marijuana programs have decided not to change marijuana’s classification as a schedule 1 substance.

Marijuana Charges in New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana is considered a disorderly persons offense. A conviction for this level of marijuana possession may result in up to six months of jail time, a fine not exceeding $1,000, suspension of your driver’s license, and required rehabilitation. However, if the crime involves more than 50 grams, New Jersey law considers it a felony with potential prison time of up to five years and fines up to $35,000.

Manufacturing or distributing marijuana weighing less than an ounce is considered a fourth-degree felony. The most severe marijuana charges; however, include manufacturing or distributing more than 25 pounds of the substance. This is considered a first-degree felony under New Jersey law.

Call Bhatt Law Group Right Away

Bhatt Law Group has a group of experienced Jersey City criminal defense attorneys with decades of combined experience in drug cases. We have successfully defended people in New Jersey from aggressive prosecution for drug charges, including possession and use of marijuana. We will analyze your case and leave no stone unturned in considering your defenses. Having an attorney by your side at the very beginning can help you achieve a more favorable result. You should not take marijuana charges lightly since a conviction can have serious repercussions on your life and family.

Call us immediately at (201) 798-8000 so we can help you protect your rights and plan an effective strategy for your defense.