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What should I know about federal marijuana laws?

States across the nation are changing their attitudes and perceptions regarding marijuana. Numerous states have legalized marijuana for certain medical purposes. For example, New Jersey has legalized marijuana to treat the following illnesses:

  • Crohn's disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Seizure and/or spasticity disorders
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Multiple Sclerosis

However, just because New Jersey and other states have legalized marijuana for medical use, it does not mean that federal marijuana laws have changed. In fact, marijuana continues to be classified as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, which means that the federal government does not consider marijuana to have any legitimate medicinal purpose. It also means that anyone caught with marijuana crossing state borders, mailing marijuana or using marijuana on federal property -- like in a state park -- could be at risk of being arrested and facing drug charges.

The federal laws that make marijuana use illegal are found in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). As a result of the CSA, any individuals found marketing, growing or distributing marijuana could be arrested and charged with serious drug crimes. Even individuals who are indirectly doing business with a marijuana distribution agency -- like a cleaning company contracted to clean a state-sanctioned medical marijuana distributary -- could find themselves facing drug charges.

If you get arrested and charged with marijuana crimes in New Jersey -- no matter if those crimes are state or federal in nature -- you could find yourself in serious trouble with the law. However, you will have the opportunity to defend yourself in court to try and get your charges dropped, dismissed or seek less severe punishments in the event of a conviction.

Source: FindLaw, "Federal marijuana law," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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