To date, nine states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana, and this has prompted the rise of a new form of tourism. “Cannabis vacations,” or trips to these states where marijuana is legal to purchase and consume under some restrictions (just like alcohol) are suddenly becoming immensely popular with people who wish to enjoy the substance for themselves. States have reported significant income gains from the taxes levied on legally-sold cannabis, and this is prompting debate on legalization in further states across the country and could further expand the cannabis tourism business.
However, with the rise of these cannabis vacations has come a rise in law enforcement crackdowns, looking for those who are continuing their vacations back at home. While New Jersey does have a medical marijuana program, possession of marijuana is still against the law, and could have consequences if you’re found with the substance in your possession without authorization.
New Jersey happens to be particularly close to three states that have legalized recreational marijuana: Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. Those who travel to these states in order to consume cannabis are sometimes choosing to bring a souvenir home from their trip, which is against the law and could result in possession of marijuana charges. As such, officers are being particularly vigilant, especially along major roads near New Jersey’s northern borders, which make popular crossing points for those carrying the substance to re-enter the state.
Possession of Marijuana Penalties
Let’s get something clear first: you are well within your rights to take a “cannabis vacation.” As long as you follow all applicable laws in the state where you travel to (i.e. are over the age of 21 and don’t consume in a public area), then you are not breaking any laws and won’t get in any trouble back at home. However, if you choose to bring your vacation back home with you, that’s when you could face legal consequences.
Possession of Marijuana in New Jersey is an offense which depends on the amount of the substance that’s found in your possession. According to NORML, one of the leading marijuana legalization advocate groups, possession of 50 grams or less, is considered a “disorderly person” offense that can be penalized by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, possession of more than 50 grams is a much more serious crime that can carry up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
These penalties pale in comparison to the penalties for possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. People sometimes choose to take these trips and bring home a collection of the substance to distribute to others who are unable to get access to cannabis here in New Jersey. Possession with intent to distribute is treated the same as actually distributing the substance, which is a much more serious offense. Having just one ounce in our possession with the intent to distribute carries at least three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. If you’re found in possession with the intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school or school bus, the fine jumps to $150,000!
So if you’re planning on taking one of these trips, you’re more than welcome to do so. However, be sure your trip ends when you reach the border of the state you’ve traveled to—carrying marijuana over state lines is against the law, and a conviction could be life-changing.If you’ve been accused of possession of marijuana in New Jersey, call the Law Offices of Joseph R. Donahue, LLC at (201) 574-7919 today for a case evaluation!