America’s Drug Epidemic and the Rise in Drug Crimes

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An American Epidemic

Drug crimes are a huge problem in America. The country is in the throes of a dangerous epidemic with over 59,000 drug related deaths occurring in 2016, a 19% increase from 2015. Today drug overdoses are the mosts common cause of death for Americans over the age of 50. These staggering statistics result from the rise in popularity of opioids in the country.

The United States is the world leader in drug addiction. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates over two million citizens are opioid addicts. Furthermore, 1 in every 100 people in the United States is incarcerated for drug crimes. That number may rise with the current Attorney General’s amplification of the “War on Drugs.” AG Jeff Sessions recently released a memorandum asking U.S. attorney to seek the maximum legal punishment when prosecuting drug crimes.

Drug Crimes in New Jersey

There are various kinds of drug crimes in America. Often people will have more than one charge at a time. Below are various drug crimes and their possible punishments according to New Jersey law.


That state of New Jersey has strict laws regarding possession. Below are the various types of possession charges and the possible legal punishments.

  • Marijuana Possession (less than 50 Grams) – Loss of driver’s license, up to $1000 fine, six months in prison, drug rehabilitation
  • Marijuana Possession (more than 50 Grams) – A fourth-degree criminal offense, up to 18 months in jail, up to $15,000 fine
  • Possession of Narcotics or Controlled Dangerous Substances (cocaine, heroin, etc.) – 3 to 5 years prison, a $1,000 – $25,000 fine,  mandatory drug rehabilitation, and loss of driver’s license
  • Possession of Unauthorized Prescription Drugs – Up to 5 years in prison and a minimum $1000 fine

Paraphernalia Laws in New Jersey

Possession laws also include paraphernalia. “Paraphernalia” is anything that facilitates drug use whether it’s to inject, inhale, prepare, or hide illegal substances. It also includes any equipment used to make drugs. In New Jersey, a person can face up to 6 months in prison, suspension of driver’s license for up to 2 years, and a fine of $500 up to $1000.

Common types of paraphernalia include:

  • Syringe – This is a device used to inject drugs directly into the blood stream. Syringes are typically associated with heroin use.
  • Bong – This is a filtration device used to smoke dried herbs. Bongs are typically associated with marijuana consumption.
  • Pipe – This is a device made for inhaling drugs. Pipes are used with various drugs including crack cocaine and marijuana.
  • Rolling paper/Blunts – People use rolling papers and “blunts” to create marijuana cigarettes.

Intent to Distribute

Intent to distribute means the defendant possesses a significant amount of illegal substances, enough to assume they sell drugs to other people. The penalties for drug dealing are typically harsher than simple possession. They also vary depending on the type and amount of drugs present.

  • Psilocybin/LSD – A second-degree crime if possession is less than 100 milligrams, first-degree offense if more than 1000 milligrams.
  • Narcotics or Controlled Dangerous Substances (cocaine, heroin, etc.) – a third-degree crime if less than 1/2 oz, a second-degree offense if between 1/2 oz and 5 oz, and a first-degree offense if over 5 oz.
  • Marijuana – a fourth-degree offense if less than an ounce, a third-degree crime if between 1 oz and 5 lbs, a second-degree offense if between 5 lbs and 25 lbs, and finally a first-degree crime if the quantity is more than 25 lbs.


Trafficking is the most serious drug crime. It includes the manufacturing, cultivating, and distribution of illegal drugs. It is considered a felony and will land a person in prison. Sentences range from 3 years to life in prison.


Fatal Drug Overdoses in New Jersey

Law enforcement officers are cracking down on drug crimes because of the rise of fatal drug overdoses in the United States. Deadly overdoses in America have increased by more than 2 1/2 times since the year 1999. Heroin is the most popular culprit regarding drug overdoses. However, other opioids such as fentanyl claim their fair share of lives as well.

Adults between 45 and 54 have the highest rate of death caused by overdose. In 2015 the overdose rate for Hispanic Americans was 7 out of every 100,000. For black Americans, the rate was 12 in over 100,000. Finally, for Caucasians, the death rate was 21 in every 100,000. Experts expect the rates to increase with time.

New Jersey First Time Offenders Program

In New Jersey, a person with a first-time offense has options. To help people suffering from drug addiction the state created rehabilitation programs to prevent further crimes. Pretrial interventions resolve first-time offenders even before they hit the courtroom. With conditional discharges, a defendant also avoids trial but must agree to supervision for a given period. If you face drug charges and it’s your first offense, a drug crimes lawyer can help you navigate the system and possibly take advantage of the New Jersey First Time Offenders Programs.


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