When cocaine and crack are sold as drugs, they can have horrific consequences, in terms of their addictive power, negative effects on the body, and intense ramifications for the communities where they might be sold. In trying to tackle this issue, and in recognition of abusive past legal attempts to eliminate drug use via faulty “tough-on-crime” style regulations, New Jersey today tries to balance having harsh penalties for the possession of drugs like cocaine as well as having an opening for first offenders to find leniency. This blog post will explain how New Jersey classifies cocaine and what drug use prevention strategies the state of New Jersey has tried to use. Read on to learn more, and remember that if you’ve been accused of cocaine possession, you need a strong Mercer County drug crimes lawyer at your side to fight these charges with you.
Cocaine in New Jersey
Cocaine is a Schedule II Controlled Dangerous Substance in New Jersey. This means that under New Jersey legislation, cocaine is defined as a drug with a high potential for abuse and that is capable of causing physical or psychological dependence. As opposed to the raw coca leaf sometimes chewed on by indigenous South American farmers to withstand working in the high altitudes of Andes peaks, refined cocaine is infamous for its great potential for abuse, whether it is snorted or injected, or even combined with bathing soda to be smoked as crack.
The United States is easily the world’s largest buyer of cocaine, and just like other states, New Jersey has an equally high demand for cocaine. Given the cultural origin and different usage of the coca leaf in places like Peru and Colombia, it’s not a big surprise to see that small amounts of cocaine are legal in these places (up to two grams in Peru and up to one gram in Colombia). In the United States and New Jersey, however, where the historical usage for coca-derived products like cocaine originates not with low-income farmers but purely as a recreational drug, cocaine possession is illegal.
What Kind of Crime in Cocaine Possession in New Jersey?
Cocaine possession is classified as a third-degree offense in the Garden States. The law does have some leniency for first-time offenders, via alternative paths like Drug Court, Pre-Trial Intervention, or treatment programs.
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 criminalizes any possession of cocaine in any amount as a third-degree felony. If someone is convicted of cocaine possession, they may face three to five years in prison, a fine of up to $35,000, and having their license suspended for six months.
As an example, Drug Court was created in 1996 by Camden and Essex Superior Courts to reduce drug and alcohol abuse as well as related crime. Drug Courts through New Jersey’s Superior Court structure employ specialized teams of treatment professionals and substance abuse evaluators in addition to the usual court staff, probation officers, and attorneys. As such, and with your lawyer’s help, you may be able to get your cocaine possession charge downgraded, and possibly even punished for a lesser offense that offers the possibility of a diversionary program.