Can Possessing Synthetic Marijuana Get You in Legal Trouble?
For a while, synthetic marijuana was easily available at some gas stations and convenience stores. It’s commonly known as K -2 or Spice and sold under a different seemingly clever names. Some casually refer to synthetic marijuana as fake pot. Some obtain it in package form and its contents resemble herbs or incense. It is also sold in vials as a liquid to be used in vapors. But is it legal?
The answer is a resounding no. A couple of years ago, the New Jersey Legislature passed a law banning synthetic marijuana. It cannot be manufactured or sold legally. Someone caught with fake pot in their possession can also be in immense trouble. Ironically, it can be a bigger deal than regular marijuana possession charges.
The Law on Synthetic Marijuana
Some question why fake pot carries stiffer penalties than the real stuff. It’s because synthetic marijuana can cause some rather nasty side effects. Some may actually die from its use. Unfortunately, the greatest quantity of K2 or Spice is sold to minors. The packaging and low cost make it attractive.
According to news reports, New Jersey saw its biggest synthetic marijuana drug bust at the end of last year. When police raided a Passaic warehouse, they found a major manufacturing laboratory. There were at least 2,000 bags of the fake pot available for distribution.
We mentioned the penalties for synthetic marijuana and actual cannabis are different. We’ve put them in a chart to help you visualize them.
|Possession of less than 50 grams||Up to 18 months in jail||Up to 6 months in jail|
|Possession of more than 50 grams, but less than an ounce||Up to 18 months in jail||More than 50 grams (about 1.7 ounces) can result in a sentence up to 18 months|
|Possession of more than one ounce||3-5 years jail time||Up to 18 months in jail|
|Selling or producing less than one ounce||3-5 years jail time||Up to 18 months in jail|
|Selling or producing more than one ounce||5-10 years jail time||More than one ounce but less than 5 pounds can result in 3-5 years jail time|
The chart above only includes prospective incarceration. It doesn’t deal with the prospect of community service or fines. It seems apparent that it is important to secure the services of an experienced criminal defense firm.
What other differences are there? Synthetic marijuana charges are heard in Superior Court, regardless of the amounts. Arrests for minor marijuana possession are heard by a Municipal Court judge.
There’s more though. If you are convicted on synthetic marijuana charges, you could get a criminal record. Even for a small amount on a first offense.
Those who charged with possession less than 50 grams of marijuana may not be faced with a criminal record, particularly with a first offense. However, if they are, they can apply for a conditional discharge. These types of charges are considered disorderly persons offenses. You can read more about conditional discharges here.
Whether you’re faced with synthetic or actual marijuana charges, you should retain legal counsel. At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have a few decades of experience with these types of cases. Contact us to see how we can assist you.