The laws surrounding the use and sale of marijuana seem to be changing almost constantly. While some states impose strict laws against marijuana, other states have begun legalizing or decriminalizing the substance. Marijuana users and sellers have found ways around laws prohibiting the substance by making synthetic versions of the chemicals found in marijuana. The most common synthetic marijuana substances are known as K2 or Spice.
While the laws have been in flux over the years, in the State of New Jersey, all forms of synthetic marijuana are illegal. Users and dealers have attempted to create synthetic marijuana using formulas that circumvent the law in the past. However, New Jersey currently bans any and all forms of synthetic marijuana.
The laws regarding marijuana and synthetic marijuana are not always clear. Lawmakers frequently debate this issue, and many citizens are confused as to whether synthetic marijuana is legal. If you have been criminally charged, our Ocean County, NJ drug defense attorneys can help you fight the charges. The team at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych is available for free legal consultation. Call us at (609) 616-4956.
Is It Legal to Have Synthetic Marijuana in New Jersey?
Synthetic marijuana is illegal in New Jersey. Not only does this include the more commonly known forms of synthetic marijuana, like Spice and K2, but all forms as well. The ingredients necessary to create synthetic marijuana have also been banned. In fact, several laws have been adopted specifically to stop the possession and distribution of synthetic marijuana.
Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5.3a, the manufacture and distribution of synthetic marijuana are prohibited. This includes the production and sale of synthetic marijuana and possession with the intent to distribute.
The possession of synthetic marijuana is illegal under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.3a. The law makes it a crime to purposely obtain or possess the substance. However, this law does not apply to possession with the intent to sell or distribute. Our New Jersey synthetic marijuana defense lawyers are experienced and updated with all the laws surrounding this issue.
Rather than use the term “synthetic marijuana,” these laws include the specific chemical ingredients found in synthetic marijuana that make them dangerous. Before it was made illegal, synthetic marijuana sent numerous people in New Jersey to the hospital. Synthetic marijuana was therefore deemed a public health concern and made illegal.
What Is Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana is a chemical formula meant to mimic the active ingredients in marijuana as a substitute that does not contain any actual marijuana. Instead, certain chemical ingredients produce the same or similar intoxicating effects as ordinary marijuana, with limitations. However, these chemical ingredients are typically unsafe and have been completely banned in New Jersey. Any laws relating to the legality of real marijuana are separate from laws about synthetic marijuana since the ingredients and chemicals are different.
The chemical ingredients often contained in synthetic marijuana that have been banned by law include the following:
- 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone, 4-MMC)
- 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)
- 3,4-methylenedioxymethcathinone (methylone, MDMC)
- 4-methoxymethcathinone (methedrone, bk-PMMA, PMMC)
- 3-fluoromethcathinone (3-FMC)
- 4-fluoromethcathinone (flephedrone, 4-FMC)
- alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP)
Synthetic marijuana is intended to produce the same intoxicating and euphoric sensations of ordinary marijuana. However, synthetic marijuana can be unpredictable, and the effects are sometimes much stronger than ordinary marijuana. Substances like Spice, K2, or other forms of synthetic marijuana typically contain the above-mentioned chemical ingredients.
Penalties Related to Synthetic Marijuana in New Jersey
A defendant can be charged with the simple possession of synthetic marijuana, distribution, or possession with the intent to distribute. While these offenses are common in cases involving all kinds of drugs and controlled substances, the law sets out specific penalties for synthetic marijuana. Charges may range from indictable crimes of the fourth-degree indictable up to the second degree. Our South Jersey drug defense lawyers have experience handling all levels of criminal charges.
For mere possession of synthetic marijuana ingredients, you may be charged with a third-degree crime for quantities of 1 ounce or more. For quantities less than 1 ounce, you could be charged with a fourth-degree crime.
Distribution or possession with the intent to distribute synthetic marijuana is a bit more serious and charged more harshly. For such an offense, you might be charged with a third-degree crime if the amount in question is less than 1 ounce. For quantities of 1 ounce or more, you could be charged with a second-degree crime.
The penalties for fourth-degree indictable crimes include possible prison sentences of up to 18 months. For third-degree crimes, you may face a sentence of at least 3 years in prison but no more than 5 years. Finally, for second-degree crimes related to synthetic marijuana, you may be punished with no less than 5 years but not more than 10 years in prison.
Defenses to New Jersey Criminal Charges for Synthetic Marijuana
Defending yourself against charges related to synthetic marijuana may be similar to defenses against other drug crimes. Although synthetic marijuana crimes are contained in separate statutes, the criminal elements are similar to ordinary drug offenses. For possession, a crucial criminal element is the defendant’s knowledge of the drugs. For distribution or possession with intent to distribute, intent is a critical element. Talk to our Wildwood, NJ drug defense attorneys about the best defense strategy for your case.
We can argue that you did not know the items, goods, or products in your possession contained synthetic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana commonly looks like dried plants and herbs that have been sprayed with the chemical ingredients mentioned above. While the substance is often smoked, it can also be used in teas or inhaled as an e-cigarette or vape. It is possible someone could be unaware that their product contained synthetic marijuana chemicals. In such a case, we could argue to have your charges dropped.
Proving a defendant was going to distribute synthetic marijuana requires proving intent. The intent is tricky to prove, as prosecutors cannot get inside the minds of defendants. Intent is often found by examining the totality of the circumstances, meaning multiple factors may be used together. Factors like the quantity of synthetic marijuana involved and whether there were common signs of distribution, like packaging materials or scales, may be used against you. If no such factors were present, we can argue to have your charges dropped or reduced to simple possession.
Call Our Synthetic Marijuana Defense Attorneys
The laws surrounding synthetic marijuana can be confusing, and many are confused about whether the substance is legal. If you face criminal charges for synthetic marijuana, call our Cape May drug defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Call us at (609) 616-4956 for a free legal consultation.