New Jersey Decriminalization of Weed

Twenty years ago, you couldn’t whisper “marijuana” in a hushed tone without being accused of being a delinquent. As the cultural zeitgeist evolves to include demystifying and destigmatizing the beloved plant’s use, the legislature has had to evolve. While marijuana was previously illegal in all its forms, the United States has taken giant leaps in sanctioning marijuana for medical use. In some more progressive states, it’s decriminalized. 

In November 2020, 65% of New Jersey residents voted to decriminalize the drug for recreational use in adults 21 years and older. Even though you can now get away with talking about marijuana at the dinner table among polite company, that does not mean that all previous consequences have disappeared. 

Medical Marijuana in New Jersey: What You Need to Know 

Medical marijuana is now legal in New Jersey as long as you carry the official diagnosis of an approved medical condition. It is not enough to have your condition documented through medical records, however. 

To legally purchase and possess medical marijuana, you must visit a state-approved doctor and pay their specified fees (generally not covered by insurance) and the yearly state fees for your medical card. 


The approved medical conditions are:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic pain of visceral origin
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Opioid Use Disorder
  • Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Dysmenorrhea 
  • Migraine
  • Intractable skeletal spasticity
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Terminal illness with a prognosis of less than 12 months to live
  • Anxiety

New Jersey Has Legalized Recreational Marijuana

In April 2022, recreational marijuana sales became legal in New Jersey. Anyone aged 21 years or older can legally buy marijuana and marijuana products from officially licensed dispensaries. However, there are some limitations.

Adults purchasing marijuana and marijuana products are legally allowed to buy 1 ounce of cannabis at a time. You can possess as much as 6 ounces of marijuana without facing criminal drug charges. New Jersey currently has 13 open dispensaries approved by the New Jersey Regulatory Cannabis Commission.

Although recreational marijuana is legal, it is still against the law to smoke marijuana while operating a vehicle. Individuals can consume marijuana at home, but only if they are homeowners or have permission from their landlords if renting. However, many people can avoid smoking marijuana in a rental property by using edibles instead.

New Jersey does not currently allow medical or recreational marijuana users to grow their own marijuana products. Although marijuana possession may be decriminalized, there are still instances in which individuals can face criminal charges.

Penalties for Marijuana Drug Charges in New Jersey

There are multiple criminal consequences associated with marijuana drug charges in New Jersey. Although recreational marijuana is now legal, that does not mean there are no limitations. Failure to follow New Jersey marijuana laws could result in criminal charges.

For example, an individual found growing even a single marijuana plant could be fined up to $25,000 and spend as much as five years in a New Jersey state prison. Anyone accused of possessing more than 6 ounces of marijuana could be charged with a fourth-degree felony. If convicted, you could face fines that reach up to $25,000 and spend up to 18 months in prison. Possession of more than 6 ounces of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school could result in additional penalties, including fines and community service hours.

However, if you are accused of possessing or distributing marijuana, the charges against you could be far more severe. Selling or distributing more than 1 ounce of marijuana but less than 5 pounds is considered a third-degree felony. If convicted, you could spend up to five years in a New Jersey state prison and be fined as much as $25,000.

The sale or distribution of more than 5 pounds of marijuana but less than 25 pounds is considered a second-degree felony. If convicted, you could be ordered to pay fines not to exceed $150,000 and spend as much as 10 years in prison. There are also multiple collateral consequences that could turn your life upside down. For this reason, it is crucial that you get an experienced marijuana lawyer on your side who can help you protect your future and avoid a conviction.

Take Control of Your Defense. Call Today for a Confidential Consultation

Even if you have no previous criminal record, drug crimes are a serious offense. For more information on getting legal defense for drug crimes in Pennsylvania, including possession, manufacturing, and trafficking, reach out to a PA drug crimes attorney at Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC for a confidential case assessment today. Call our office or complete our secured contact form to get started as soon as today.