After the tragic death of former Rutgers student and Warren Township resident Pamela Schmidt, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed bill SCS-28289, commonly referred to as “Pamela’s Law,” on August 22, 2011. This legislation memorialized a young woman whose untimely death was allegedly caused by an individual who was under the influence of synthetic marijuana. Its enactment criminalized the possession, manufacture, and distribution of synthetic marijuana, also known as “bath salts,” “K2,” “spice,” and “fake weed.” Although synthetic marijuana was once accessible for purchase at gas stations and online, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has designated the five active chemicals most frequently used in its production as Schedule I controlled substances, meaning they have a high potential for abuse and no established medical benefit. While the psychotropic effects of synthetic marijuana often mirror those of conventional marijuana, criminal offenses involving fake weed are considered more serious and thus, are punishable by more severe penalties under the New Jersey Criminal Code.
At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our attorneys utilize over 100 years of combined experience on both sides of the New Jersey Justice System, working side-by-side with our clients to secure the most desirable outcomes. Having established a widely recognized track record of success, we are often called upon by publications and media outlets to serve as legal resources and have been featured in USA Today as well as on CNBC and ABC, to name just a few. Overall, we are committed to pursuing every available avenue when resolving your case, whether that includes downgraded charges, a negotiated plea to a lesser sentence, enrollment in a diversionary program such as conditional discharge or Pre-Trial Intervention, or winning your case at trial. To discuss your criminal charges with a member of our talented defense team, contact The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall today. One of our attorneys is standing by to immediately assist you.
Synthetic Marijuana Possession in New Jersey: N.J.S.A 2C:35-10.3a
Offenses involving the possession of synthetic marijuana are outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.3a of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which provides:
It is a crime for any person, knowingly or purposely, to obtain, or to possess, substances containing: 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone, 4-MMC); 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV); 3,4-methylenedioxymethcathinone (methylone, MDMC), 4-methoxymethcathinone (methedrone, bk-PMMA, PMMC); 3-fluoromethcathinone (3-FMC); or 4-fluoromethcathinone (flephedrone, 4-FMC).
- A person who violates this section where the quantity involved is one ounce or more is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
- A person who violates this section where the quantity involved is less than one ounce is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
When charged with possession of synthetic marijuana, there are multiple avenues which may be available to you. First, if your offense involves less than one ounce of synthetic marijuana and you are charged with a fourth degree crime, you are exposed to a prison sentence of up to 18 months. However, our attorneys will often work to have these charges downgraded to disorderly persons offenses, which are adjudicated at the municipal court level and entail significantly lesser penalties. On the other hand, if your offense involves one ounce or more of synthetic marijuana and you are charged with a third degree crime, you may be sentenced to serve between 3 and 5 years in New Jersey State Prison. However, third degree crimes entail a presumption of non-incarceration for first time offenders, which we often leverage to secure enrollment in a diversionary program known as the Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTI). If successfully completed, PTI results in the dismissal of the charges, allowing you to move forward without a conviction on your criminal record.
Manufacturing, Distributing, or Dispensing Synthetic Marijuana in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5.3a
Charges for Manufacturing, Distributing, or Dispensing Synthetic Marijuana are addressed in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5.3a of New Jersey’s Criminal Code, which reads:
It is a crime for any person knowingly or purposely to manufacture, distribute or dispense, or to possess of have under his control with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense substances containing: 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone, 4-MMC); 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV); 3,4-methylenedioxymethcathinone (methylone, MDMC), 4-methoxymethcathinone (methedrone, bk-PMMA, PMMC); 3-fluoromethcathinone (3-FMC); or 4-fluoromethcathinone (flephedrone, 4-FMC).
- A person who violates this section where the quantity involved is one ounce or more is guilty of a crime of the second degree
- A person who violates this section where the quantity involved is less than one ounce is guilty of a crime of the third degree (punishable by a term of incarceration between 3 and 5 years in New Jersey State Prison)
The distinction between second and third degree charges for distribution of synthetic marijuana is significant, as second degree charges entail a presumption of incarceration and a lengthier prison sentence, while third degree charges are associated with a presumption of non-incarceration, making probation or a diversionary program a significant possibility for a first-time offender. Specifically, a second degree charge is punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 5 to 10 years, while a third degree charge is punishable by a State Prison term ranging from 3 to 5 years. Obviously, an outright dismissal is always the ideal outcome and we work to identify any weaknesses in the State’s case that may help us to win at trial. Barring this possibility, we will always leverage our decades of experience to achieve a more attractive result in the form of probation or enrollment in a diversionary program such as Pre-Trial Intervention.
Contact our Branchburg NJ Synthetic Marijuana Distribution Lawyers for Help
For a free comprehensive evaluation of your synthetic marijuana case in New Jersey, contact our offices at 908-722-1011. We are available 24/7 to address your questions and concerns.