New Jersey Patients Have Limited Access to Medicinal Marijuana
Under limited circumstances, New Jersey law allows residents with debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Currently, the law is limited to a very small list of conditions including multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease and some cancers.
Patients who have been authorized to use medicinal marijuana are allowed to purchase up to two ounces per month from an approved Alternative Treatment Center. However, getting access to this marijuana has been a significant problem, because the state currently only has one operating ATC – Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair. What’s more, Greenleaf only recently reopened after a seven-week closure it attributed to lack of supply. This has left some patients searching for other ways to get their marijuana.
This ATC wasn’t intended to be the only dispensary. While the state initially authorized six dispensaries, Greenleaf was the only one to have met requirements. However, this summer, it was announced that two new dispensaries – one in Egg Harbor and the other in Woodbridge – have been given permission to start growing and are expected to open in the fall.
In addition, Gov. Chris Christie has given his approval that would increase the types of marijuana that are available to patients. The legislation would also allow some children to use medicinal marijuana.
New Jersey marijuana penalties
While New Jersey’s medical marijuana program is beneficial to many people, it is important to understand that the vast majority of marijuana use is still illegal under state law. Being caught possessing, selling or growing marijuana can result in serious legal consequences.
Possession of 50 grams of marijuana or less – a little less than two ounces – is a disorderly persons offense that can be punished by up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. Anything more than that is a felony that can bring up to 1.5 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
The penalties for selling marijuana are much harsher. The sale of any amount of marijuana is a felony under New Jersey law. The sale of anything less than an ounce can be punished by up to 1.5 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The sale of anything between one ounce and five pounds carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison.
The penalties for cultivation are similarly strong. Growing less than 10 plants can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison. Growing between 10 and 49 plants carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, and growing more than that carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.
Given these strict penalties, it is important to take the charges seriously if you or a loved one has been accused of a marijuana offense. Talk to an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney who can help you protect your rights.