Marijuana Possession: What is the Relevance of 50 Grams?
The laws on marijuana in New Jersey do not treat the offender as a criminal if he or she is caught with less than 50 grams. If you are caught with 50 grams of marijuana or less you will face penalties as a “disorderly person”, which may include jail time, fines and possible community service. However, if you are caught with over 50 grams of marijuana, you can be charged with an indictable criminal offense (often called a felony in other states) and face much more severe penalties. Fifty grams of marijuana is a large amount, but it is important to remember that any amount of marijuana found in your possession will result in detention, fines and other harsh penalties.
Without a scale, it may be difficult for the average marijuana user to know exactly how much pot they are actually carrying. If you're not familiar with the grams unit of measure, 50 grams is equivalent to 1.76 ounces or 1/16 of a pound. For some frame of reference, 50 grams is equivalent to 10 U.S. nickels or a little less than the weight of half a stick of butter.
Possession of 50 Grams or Less of Marijuana – Disorderly Persons Offense
Assuming a charge of possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana isn't coupled with the charge of intent to sell, a guilty charge under the NJ law N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4) will just result in a disorderly persons charge on your record. The maximum penalties for a disorderly persons offense is up to six months in jail and up to $500 in fines.
Possession of More Than 50 Grams of Marijuana – 4th Degree Indictable Crime
A conviction for possession of marijuana in an amount more than 50 grams, under N.J.S. 2C:35-10(a)(3), is what they call an indictable criminal offense, or crime, in New Jersey. This is typically called a “felony” in other jurisdictions, and it comes with it some very harsh penalties if you are found guilty. As a fourth degree crime, a conviction for marijuana possession over 50 grams involves up to eighteen months in jail, a fine of up to $25,000 or both.
Possession of Marijuana on School Grounds
Any person found guilty of possessing marijuana, regardless of the amount, while on school property is subject to a community service requirement in addition to any other sentence imposed by the court. This includes any property used for school purposes, such as any place owned or leased to a school or school board, or while on a school bus. The 100 hours or more of community service added to the defendant's sentence is also imposed even if the person is found to have possessed marijuana while within 1,000 feet of any of these locations. See the New Jersey marijuana possession law for more information on this requirement.
Charged with Your First Marijuana Possession in NJ? Conditional Discharge May be an Option!
If you are facing your first charge for possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana in New Jersey, you may be eligible for a conditional discharge. A conditional discharge is a program similar to probation in which you agree to be supervised for a period of time up to three years in exchange for suspension of your drug charge. If you satisfactorily complete the conditional discharge period, you will not have the disorderly persons drug conviction entered against you on your criminal record. A conditional discharge is only an option for someone facing their first drug charge, so if that applies to you, it is important that you speak with an attorney before considering pleading guilty.
Speak to a NJ Attorney About Your Marijuana Charge
If you were detained and issued a citation for marijuana possession in Ocean County or Monmouth County, New Jersey, you may still be unclear as to the NJ marijuana laws. It is highly suggested that you consult with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney about your rights. Call Villani & DeLuca today for a free initial consultation where a criminal lawyer experienced in drug charges will discuss your citation, the associated penalties and possible defenses available to you in your case.