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New Jersey Drug Distribution Laws

While it's a crime simply to possess illicit drugs in every state (although some states allow for the cultivation, sale, and possession of cannabis), all states prosecute the distribution of drugs much more severely. The term distribution can refer to trafficking large amounts of drugs across state lines or national borders, transporting drugs from a safe house to the point of sale, or selling directly to buyers. In New Jersey, as in other states, you can even be charged with drug distribution merely for your intent to do so. For instance, evidence used against you as proof of intent to distribute may include a digital scale, large amounts of baggies, lists of retail distributors ("street-level dealers"), or other evidence.

The following chart summarizes New Jersey's laws and penalties for the distribution of illegal drugs.

New Jersey Drug Distribution Laws: The Basics


The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C § 35-5

Statutory Definition of the Offense

It is unlawful for any person knowingly or purposely:

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

Crime Classifications

Drug distribution offenses are classified according to the type of substance and the amounts distributed (either actual or intended), including the weight of any adulterants or dilutants.

Heroin or Cocaine

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

Schedule I or II Narcotic (excluding heroin or cocaine)

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

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)

  • Less than 100 milligrams (or where the amount is undetermined): 2nd degree crime


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


  • 25 lbs. or more, 50 or more plants, or more than 5 lbs. of hashish/concentrate: 1st degree crime
  • 5 lbs. - 25 lbs., 10-50 plants, 1 lb. to 5 lbs. of hashish/concentrate: 2nd degree crime
  • 1 oz. - 5 lbs., 5 g. - 1 lb. hashish/concentrate: 3rd degree crime
  • Less than 1 oz., less than 5 g. of hashish/concentrate: 4th degree crime

Sentences and Penalties

  • 1st degree crime: 10 - 20 yrs. in prison
  • 2nd degree crime : 5 - 10 yrs. in prison
  • 3rd degree crime : 3 - 5 yrs. in prison

Note: Those convicted of distributing drugs are typically subject to fines as well, but the amounts vary by the type of substance and other factors.

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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Get Help From a New Jersey Drug Crimes Attorney Today

Whether you're trafficking drugs across the state or selling small amounts, distribution of illegal drugs is a crime in New Jersey. It's always a good idea to retain a legal professional when charged with any crime. If you're facing charges of distributing illicit drugs, talk to a New Jersey drug crimes attorney today.

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