Knowing the Limits of New Jersey’s Legalization of Cannabis
Recreational marijuana use became legal in New Jersey in February 2021 and sale of cannabis products has been authorized at 13 dispensaries around the state starting in April 2022. However, there are still limits on what activities are allowed with respect to possession and use of cannabis.
The basic rules governing legal marijuana use are as follows. If you are 21 or older, you can use or possess up to six ounces of marijuana or 17 grams of hashish. Other activities that are now legal include:
- Being under the influence of marijuana or hashish
- Possessing paraphernalia related to marijuana or hashish
- Possessing marijuana or hashish while driving a car (but it is still illegal to drive while under the influence of the drugs)
However, if you possess more than the maximum allowed amounts of marijuana or hashish, you could be charged with a fourth-degree felony. A conviction carries a possible sentence of up to 18 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
You should also be aware of these other important limitations on recreational marijuana:
- You can smoke marijuana on your own property and in your own home, but public use is still limited. New Jersey will be setting up “cannabis consumption areas” where public use will be allowed.
- Growing your own cannabis is still entirely illegal. Even growing a single cannabis plant is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine, the same as it was before the new laws went into effect.
- Employers are still allowed to drug test employees and can discipline workers for possessing or using marijuana on the job.
The laws against marijuana distribution and possession with intent to distribute have changed as well. A first offense of distributing one ounce or less of marijuana or five grams or less of hashish now only brings a written warning. A second or subsequent offense can be charged as a fourth-degree felony. Distribution of larger quantities of marijuana or hashish remains a crime, the severity of which depends on the weight. For example, distributing 25 pounds of marijuana is a first-degree felony while distributing five pounds is a second-degree felony.
Pennsylvania residents should be aware that while you can now come into New Jersey and buy recreational marijuana, transporting it back across state lines in Pennsylvania could subject you to criminal and civil penalties because cannabis is still illegal there. Additionally, marijuana use is a probation violation in Pennsylvania.
Both citizens and police need to become accustomed to New Jersey’s new marijuana laws, and mistakes in enforcement efforts may be made. If you find yourself accused of a cannabis-related crime, call the Law Offices of David Jay Glassman at 866-221-1270 or contact us online to speak with our drug crime defense lawyer.