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New Jersey Drug Possession Laws

You thought it would be a great idea to burn a fat joint in the parking lot before meeting your friends at the all-day Jersey Shore Music Festival. You smoked half of it before crushing it out and setting it in the car's ashtray. Several hours later, as you walk back to the parking lot, your good vibe is suddenly disturbed by what appears to be a police officer standing next to your car. As you approach the car and ask what the problem is, the officer simply points to the half-smoked joint and asks if it's yours. Disheveled and red-eyed, you stutter through your answer. Next thing you know, you're being cuffed and stuffed into the back of the cruiser.

The fun is over, and now you're facing the possibility of actual jail time and a steep fine for drug possession. But understanding the law, and seeking out an attorney, can make all the difference in how this story ends.

New Jersey Drug Possession Laws: The Basics

The details of New Jersey's drug possession laws, including penalties and information about the state's drug courts, are listed below.


The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C § 35-10 (possession, in general); 2C § 36-2 (paraphernalia); Food and Drugs 24 § 6I-1 (medical marijuana)

Statutory Definition of the Offense

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.

Crime Classifications and Penalties

Heroin, Cocaine, Methamphetamine (and all other illicit drugs except marijuana)

  • Any Amount: 3rd degree crime (3-5 yrs. in prison and a fine of up to $35,000)


  • Less than 50g (or less than 5g of hashish): Disorderly persons offense (up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000)
  • More than 50g (or more than 5g of hashish): 4th degree crime (up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $15,000)

Drug Paraphernalia

  • Anything intended to "introduce into the human body a controlled dangerous substance" (pipes, hypodermic needles, etc.): Disorderly persons offense (up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000)

Unauthorized Prescription Drugs

  • Any amount: 3rd degree crime (3-5 yrs. in prison and a fine of up to $35,000)

*New Jersey law allows for the medical use of cannabis. Qualifying patients and/or their caregivers may possess up to 2 oz. of marijuana per month.

Drug Court

New Jersey Drug Courts offer incentives for drug crime defendants with substance abuse problems to seek rehabilitation and submit to regular drug screening in exchange for reduced or deferred sentences.

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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Facing Drug Possession Charges? Call a New Jersey Attorney

As you can see from the information above, drug possession charges vary quite a bit, primarily based on the type of drug and amount. An experienced drug crimes attorney will be able to lay out your best options and advocate on your behalf. If you're facing charges of possessing illegal drugs, talk to a New Jersey drug crimes attorney today.

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