Two highly publicized cases involving Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Cultivation of Marijuana were resolved this past week. The first matter involved a NJ man who claimed that he was growing marijuana plants in Essex County for treatment of his multiple sclerosis. The defense proved unsuccessful and he was sentenced to five (5) years in state prison this week. In the second case, a trucker passing through New Jersey was found to be in possession of 147 pounds of marijuana in Morris County. He was also sentenced this week and received a sentence of four (4) years.
The outcomes may appear inconsistent because they are. The individual in the first case was facing 5 to 10 years in prison for this second degree charge. He received a sentence at the bottom of the second degree range for growing marijuana. The other case involved a First Degree crime carrying 10 to 20 years in prison but the defendant received 4 years in jail. This was an obvious departure from the First Degree sentencing range. I assume that the more favorable outcome in this case reflects trial issues that existed relative to the search and discovery of the marijuana in the vehicle of the trucker.
These two cases illustrate how wide the potential outcomes can be when someone is arrested for selling marijuana in NJ. Formulation of a viable defense strategy is imperative in these cases and here we see how this impacts the outcome of a case. Selection of the right New Jersey Marijuana Defense Attorneys is an important consideration in this process. Formulation of a defense that has a legitimate potential for success is also pivotal. The strategy in the first case was obviously ill-fated and this is not a surprise to me in view of the fact that “medical marijuana” did not exist in this state when the offense was committed. This limited and/or prevented the defendant from raising any facts about medical necessity as a defense at trial. The defense also had an obvious problem by virtue of the fact that the defendant was apparently found to be in possession of not only the marijuana plants but psychedelic mushrooms too.