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Overview of Marijuana Possession and Distribution Charges

If you have been charged with a marijuana offense in New Jersey, you may feel anxious and overwhelmed. However, you should not assume that a conviction for possession or distribution of marijuana is inevitable. For example, law enforcement may have violated your constitutional rights and obtained evidence illegally, which means that it may be excluded from consideration in court. The first step to take in any case is consulting a knowledgeable drug crime lawyer who can explore every detail of your circumstances and fight for your rights. Monmouth County marijuana attorney Tara Breslow can offer the vigorous yet compassionate advocacy that you deserve. She takes pride in helping clients transform their lives.

Overview of Offenses Related to Marijuana Possession and Distribution

The penalties for marijuana crimes vary significantly depending on the type of charge and the amount of the substance that was allegedly involved. Here is an overview of these factors, although it is important to consult an attorney who can explain the specific consequences that you may face.


Possessing 50 grams or less of marijuana is considered a disorderly person offense, as is possessing less than five grams of hash, which is the resin extracted from marijuana plants. The potential maximum sentence for possessing this small amount of marijuana is six months of imprisonment and up to $1,000 in fines.

If you are charged with possessing more than 50 grams of marijuana, the maximum sentence is 18 months in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. You may need to perform 100 hours of community service if you possessed marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school.

Distribution or Sale

Distributing or selling less than one ounce of marijuana is also punishable by at most 18 months of imprisonment and at most $25,000 in fines.

The penalties are increased as the amount of marijuana that is sold or distributed increases. The sale or distribution of five or more but less than 25 pounds, for example, is punishable by 5-10 years in prison and at most $150,000 in fines. Selling or distributing 25 pounds or more is a crime in the first degree with a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $300,000. The imprisonment term is doubled if marijuana is sold to a minor or a pregnant woman.


Growing one ounce to five pounds, which is under 10 plants, is a crime that may be punished by up to five years in prison and at most $25,000 in fines. Growing five or more but less than 25 pounds is a second-degree crime that may be punished by 5-10 years of imprisonment and up to $150,000 in fines.

Hash Offenses

Manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing hash of less than five grams may be punished by a fine of up to $25,000 or 18 months in prison. These penalties may be increased if you manufacture, distribute, or dispense greater amounts of hash.

Other Related Offenses

If you fail to turn over your marijuana or hash to a nearby police officer, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. Being under the influence of marijuana, even if you are not driving, is also a misdemeanor. You may be punished with up to six months in prison, up to $1,000 in fines, the loss of public housing, the mandatory loss of driving privileges if the marijuana was in a car, and other penalties.

Diversion Programs for First-Time Offenders

If this is your first offense, you may be eligible for two types of diversion programs. You may be conditionally discharged or sent to a PTI (pretrial intervention). Tara Breslow, as a knowledgeable marijuana lawyer, can help Monmouth County residents and other defendants argue for their eligibility for one or both of these programs.

Conditional Discharge

Conditional discharge allows you to choose probation rather than trial. When a diversion program is applicable, the type of diversion depends on the type of charge. Generally, people charged with possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana are eligible for conditional discharge. If you are charged with possessing more than 50 grams, or you are charged with an intention to distribute, you are only eligible for PTI.


People admitted into PTI are supervised. They do not usually have a trial, but there are conditions imposed on the diversion, including the payment of assessments. Conditions may also include submitting to drug testing. Any past criminal record and your current charge may influence whether you are eligible for a diversion program.

Understanding the Difference Between Municipal and Superior Court

There are different tiers of courts for drug charges. The lowest court is municipal court, which hears non-indictable offenses, such as disorderly persons offenses. Municipal court has the lowest authority to impose penalties, and you will not have a right to a jury trial there, although you have a right to be heard and a right to an attorney. Superior courts hear indictable offenses, such as marijuana crimes that involve possession of greater amounts of marijuana, distribution, cultivation, or manufacture.

Consult an Experienced Marijuana Attorney in Monmouth County

If you have been charged with marijuana possession or distribution in Monmouth County, Attorney Tara Breslow is ready to provide a strong defense. She treats all of her clients with respect, educating them on their cases and providing information that will allow them to make informed decisions. Ms. Breslow makes sure that each client remains up to date on the current status of their matter, reducing the uncertainty and stress of the process. Our firm represents people throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties, including in Red Bank, Freehold, Middletown, Holmdel, Toms River, Atlantic Highlands, Highlands, Rumson, Fair Haven, Long Beach Island, Seaside Heights, Middletown, Little Silver, Shrewsbury, Rumson, Fair Haven, Long Branch, West Long Branch, and Ocean. Contact us at (732) 784-2880 or through our online form to set up a free appointment with Monmouth County marijuana lawyer Tara Breslow.

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