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New Jersey Drug Cultivation and Manufacturing Laws

Illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine start out as raw materials before they're refined and processed into a salable product. Cocaine and heroin are both derived from plants before the active ingredients are concentrated into a paste or powder, while methamphetamine is concocted from an assortment of chemicals that are processed in a laboratory. But unless you're a licensed pharmaceutical company making narcotics for approved medical uses, it's illegal to manufacture or cultivate controlled substances in New Jersey.

The law presumes that possessing certain materials or combinations of materials is intended for the manufacturing of a given drug (usually in addition to proof of intent). For instance, someone with a can of paint thinner (acetone) will not be arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine. However, someone with a can of paint thinner in addition to anhydrous ammonia, ephedrine, hydrochloric acid, and perhaps some lab equipment likely would give police probable cause for an arrest.

New Jersey Drug Cultivation and Manufacturing Laws at a Glance

Learn more about New Jersey's laws and penalties pertaining to the cultivation or manufacturing of illegal drugs below.


The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C § 35-4, et seq.

Statutory Definition of the Offense

To manufacture, distribute or dispense, or to possess or have under his control with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog.

Note: This also applies to the cultivation or manufacture of a "counterfeit controlled dangerous substance."

Crime Classifications by Substance

Depending on the particular substance and which chemicals and materials are needed for their production, charges are based on amounts (by weight).

Heroin, Cocaine, or Methamphetamine

  • 5 oz. or more: 1st degree crime
  • 1/2 - 5 oz.: 2nd degree crime
  • Less than 1/2 oz.: 3rd degree crime

Other Schedule I or II Controlled Substance

  • 1 oz. or more: 2nd degree crime
  • Less than 1 oz.: 3rd degree crime

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)

  • 100 mg or more (or dilutants/adulterants of 10 g or more): 1st degree crime
  • Less than 100 mg (or less than 10 g of dilutants/adulterants): 2nd degree crime

Marijuana Cultivation

  • 50 or more plants: 1st degree crime
  • 10 - 49 plants: 2nd degree crime
  • Up to 10 plants: 3rd degree crime

Note: Although New Jersey law allows the medical use of marijuana by eligible patients, personal cultivation is not allowed and is therefore not a defense against cultivation charges.

Sentences and Penalties

  • 1st degree crime: 10 - 20 yrs. in prison and a fine of up to $300,000
  • 2nd degree crime: 5 - 10 yrs. in prison and/or a fine of up to $150,000
  • 3rd degree crime: 3 - 5 yrs. in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Charged With a Drug Crime? Get Help From an Attorney Today

Drug laws are constantly in flux -- with states loosening drug sentences and even legalizing recreational cannabis sales -- but manufacturing drugs is still illegal in New Jersey and in most other states. Your best defense is an experienced legal professional. If you're facing charges of manufacturing or cultivating illegal drugs, talk to a New Jersey drug crimes attorney to discuss the evidence in your case and your options going forward.

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