Use and Possession of Club Drugs

Criminal Penalties for Use and Possession of Ecstasy (MDMA), GHB, Roofies, PCP, and other Club Drugs in New Jersey

Although actual enforcement varies on a case-by-case basis, the penalties in New Jersey for the use, possession and distribution of club drugs are very strict. The key factor is the total weight of the drugs involved: less than half an ounce, between half an ounce and five ounces, and over five ounces. The lowest weight is a third-degree crime, punishable by a maximum of three to five years in prison, while the highest quantity is a first-degree crime, mainly because of the presumption of the intention to distribute the drug. Being apprehended with over five ounces of Ecstasy, PCP or ketamine can land a person in jail for up to 20 years and entail hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

These penalties are strict enough in themselves, but there are also two major complications. First, the degree of the offense is calculated by the total weight of the drugs involved, and not the total weight of their active ingredients—so possession of pills containing only minimal amounts of MDMA or PCP can still have severe consequences. And second, in New Jersey, added penalties can be assessed if you’re caught using, possessing or distributing club drugs near schools, housing projects or public parks. If a district attorney is so inclined, even a relatively harmless drug offense (like popping a single pill in a park) can land you in prison for a six-month stretch.

Use of Club Drugs

Unless there are special circumstances, authorities are usually reluctant to prosecute the simple use of club drugs under the full weight of the law. A clubgoer or concert attendee who pops a single MDMA, GHB or ketamine pill may be able to have the charges dismissed, often under the stipulation that the individual undergo a period of probation and drug counseling. An exception would be the use of Roofies for the purpose of date rape, which is treated under entirely different criminal statutes.

If you’ve been arrested for the simple use of club drugs, the drug crimes defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can, in the majority of cases, have the charges dismissed or suspended, with no permanent mark on your record.

In many cases, an innocent clubgoer or concert attendee may be arrested en masse along with other individuals who have, in fact, been using club drugs. Since it can be difficult to prove that any given person has actually popped any given pill, the police will probably be unable to determine which perpetrators are actually high and which just happened to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you feel you’ve been unfairly arrested for the use of club drugs, the lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can intercede on your behalf with the judge or district attorney.

Possession of Club Drugs

How severely you can expect to be treated for the possession of club drugs depends on the total weight of the drugs involved. If you were holding less than half an ounce, the charges will often be dismissed, pending the completion of a period of drug counseling and probation, while more than five ounces may be interpreted by the district attorney as the more ominous “intent to distribute.” The grey area is when you’re apprehended carrying more than half an ounce but less than five ounces of club drugs; in this case, the lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall may be able to plead you down to a lesser, third-degree charge of simple possession.

What Are Club Drugs?

Broadly speaking, the phrase “club drug” applies to any recreational drug that isn’t heroin, crack or cocaine, or marijuana. Most often used in nightclubs and during “raves” and outdoor concerts, the most popular club drugs include:

Mephadrone (“bath salts”)
Alkyl nitrites, and
Flunitrazepam (better known as Roofies, or the date-rape drug).

Roofies excluded, these drugs are all mild, fast-acting stimulants and/or hallucinogens, some of which have more deleterious effects than others. (Compared to the ravages of crystal meth, for example, Ecstasy can be considered an extremely mild drug.)