New Jersey Marijuana Laws

Learn about New Jersey’s laws and penalties for marijuana possession, cultivation, and sales.

Marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture are regulated by both state and federal law. In New Jersey, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and no generally recognized medical value. (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 24:21-5 (2019).) However, despite being a Schedule I drug, New Jersey does allow medical marijuana use under limited circumstances (and there may be exceptions to the laws described below for medical marijuana patients). And while not covered in this article, it is also a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in New Jersey.

New Jersey’s Marijuana Possession Laws and Potential Penalties

It is a crime to knowingly or intentionally possess marijuana (including small amounts for personal use) in New Jersey. Penalties vary according to the amount possessed. Second and subsequent convictions may be punished more harshly.

  • 50 grams or less. The crime is a disorderly persons offense, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both.
  • More than 50 grams of marijuana. The offense is a crime of the fourth degree, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $25,000, up to 18 months in prison, or both.
  • Possession within 1,000 feet of school property or on a school bus. In addition to the penalties described above (which are based on the amount possessed), the judge will order at least 100 hours of community service for possessing marijuana in a school zone or on a school bus. For crimes where the defendant possessed the marijuana with the intent to sell it (as opposed to for personal use, as described in this section), additional penalties will apply, as described below.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:35-10, 2C:43-3, 2C:43-6, 2C:43-8 (2019).)

New Jersey’s Marijuana Cultivation Laws and Potential Penalties

It is illegal to cultivate marijuana in New Jersey. Penalties vary according to the number of plants cultivated. Second and subsequent convictions may be punished more harshly.

  • Less than one ounce of marijuana. The offense is a crime of the fourth degree, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $25,000, 18 months in prison, or both.
  • One ounce or more of marijuana or fewer than ten marijuana plants. The offense is a crime of the third degree, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $25,000, between three and five years in prison, or both.
  • Between ten and 49 plants. The offense is a crime of the second degree, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $150,000, between five and ten years in prison, or both.
  • 50 or more plants. The offense is a crime of the first degree, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $300,000, between ten and 20 years in prison, or both.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:35-5, 2C:43-3, 2C:43-6 (2019).)

New Jersey’s Marijuana Sale Laws and Potential Penalties

Selling marijuana (or possessing marijuana with the intent to do so) in New Jersey is illegal. Violations are penalized according to the amount possessed or sold, with additional penalties for violations within a school zone, on certain public property, or for violations involving a minor or a pregnant woman. Second and subsequent convictions may also be punished more harshly.

  • Up to one ounce. The offense is a crime of the fourth degree, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $25,000, up to 18 months in prison, or both.
  • At least one ounce but less than five pounds. The offense is a crime of the third degree, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $25,000, between three and five years in prison, or both.
  • At least five but less than 25 pounds. The offense is a crime of the second degree, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $150,000, between five and ten years in prison, or both.
  • 25 pounds or more. The offense is a crime of the first degree, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $300,000, between ten and 20 years in prison, or both.
  • Sales within 1,000 of a school property or on a school bus. The offense is a crime of the third degree, and potential penalties include a fine of up to $150,000, between three and five years in prison, or both. If convicted, a defendant is ineligible for parole for up to one half of the applicable prison sentence.
  • Sales within 500 feet of a public park or public housing area. If less than one ounce of marijuana is involved, the offense is a crime of the third degree, punishable by a fine of up to $25,000, between three and five years in prison, or both. The sale of one ounce or more is a crime of the second degree, punishable by a fine of up to $150,000, between five and ten years in prison, or both.
  • Sale to a minor or to a pregnant woman. A defendant who sells marijuana to someone that the defendant knew was a minor or a pregnant woman will face double the applicable fine and jail time (according to the amount sold).

(N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:35-5, 2C:35-7, 2C:35-7.1, 2C:35-8, 2C:43-3, 2C:43-6 (2019).)

New Jersey’s Drug Paraphernalia Laws

It is illegal in New Jersey to advertise, use, manufacture, or sell drug paraphernalia (or possess paraphernalia with the intent to do so). Paraphernalia includes items used in growing, harvesting, processing, selling, storing, or using marijuana. Penalties vary according to the violation, with harsher penalties for sales to a minor.

Use or possession. Using paraphernalia (or possessing it with the intent to do so) is classified as a disorderly persons offense and may be punished with a fine of up to $1,000, six months in jail, or both.

Advertising, manufacturing, or sales. Manufacturing or selling paraphernalia to adults is a crime of the fourth degree, and penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, up to 18 months in prison, or both. Selling paraphernalia to a minor is a crime of the third degree, punishable with a fine of up to $15,000, between three and five years in prison, or both.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:36-1, 2C:36-2, 2C:36-3, 2C:36-4, 2C:43-3, 2C:43-6, 2C:43-8 (2019).)

Get Legal Help

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, the law can change at any time. Only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.

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