State laws about marijuana have changed in New Jersey. Between the addition of a medical marijuana law in 2010 and the creation of a state patient registry in 2012, there's a lot of confusion about what is legal and what simply isn't. Perhaps further muddying the waters is that state laws about low-level possession seem to be lenient at first consideration.
Possession of up to 50 grams (just under two ounces) results in a disorderly person charge that carries up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The same penalties apply for any amount of marijuana extracts or concentrates.
While these rules aren't as lenient as those that exist in other states, the combination of higher weight thresholds and a medical marijuana program may leave many people at risk of failing to take New Jersey marijuana charges seriously.
Not even medical marijuana patients can not grow their own
One type of marijuana allegation it is incredibly important to not underestimate the seriousness of here in New Jersey is being accused of cultivating marijuana. State medical marijuana law does not allow for home cultivation of marijuana, even by registered patients. So, people accused of trying to treat serious conditions like ALS, cancer, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, post traumatic stress disorder and seizures by growing their own marijuana can be in an incredibly serious and precarious situation.
Cultivation charges in New Jersey are serious offenses
Even if you have a medical marijuana registration, that won't protect you from criminal charges if law enforcement accuses you of growing marijuana. These charges can expose individuals to some severe potential penalties. New Jersey laws on cultivation have mandatory minimum prison sentences, starting with three years in jail, as well as steep fines.
Those accused of growing less than five pounds of marijuana or less than 10 plants will generally face the lowest potential penalties. A conviction on the related criminal charge carries anywhere from three to five years in jail, as well as a fine of up to $25,000.
If you are convicted of growing between five and 25 pounds or between 10 and 49 plants, the mandatory minimum sentence increases to five years, while the maximum sentence goes up to 10 years. The fine also increase to $150,000.
Those accused of growing 50 or more plants or marijuana that weighs more than 25 pounds could face between 10 and 20 years in prison, as well as a fine of $300,000.
When you consider the fact that even new clones or seedlings may count against you and that weights will likely involve wet plants and roots, it's possible for accusations of having even a small, personal marijuana garden to ultimately result in years behind bars.