Is Possession of Mushrooms a Felony in New Jersey?
Laws concerning low-level drugs have been changing around our country over the past few years. Some drug laws are in a state of flux in some areas of the country, with several states reconsidering outdated drug classifications. Much of this is in response to how ineffective these laws have been and how these criminal charges have the ability to seriously upend an offender’s life.
While hallucinogenic mushrooms are still considered Schedule 1 drugs in New Jersey, possession of small amounts has been reclassified. Now, instead of being charged with possession of a controlled substance, if you have been found with one ounce or less of these mushrooms, the most stringent penalty will be six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000 under the new classification. Before you make any decisions, it is important to speak with a New Jersey drug crimes lawyer.
The Psychoactive Nature of Hallucinogenic Mushrooms
The federal government first banned “psychedelic” mushrooms back in 1970 as part of the nation’s efforts to stop recreational drug use. But since the Nixon-era “war on drugs,” much of the nation’s response has been ineffective and expensive, often targeting the lowest-level offenders.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms contain a compound called psilocybin. This compound has psychoactive effects and has been considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. But like other cases of low-level psychoactive substances, New Jersey still groups them with other more harmful drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine which carry a much higher risk for abuse.
If it Has Been Reclassified, Is Possession of Mushrooms Still a Criminal Offense?
In recent years, some states and cities around the country have decriminalized these mushrooms, making them a low priority for law enforcement. In New Jersey, although possessing and selling hallucinogenic mushrooms is still a criminal offense, as of February 2021, possession of less than an ounce of these mushrooms has been reclassified as a disorderly person’s offense. Now, someone caught with less than one ounce of these mushrooms will face up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 compared to previous much more serious penalties.
Possession of over an ounce of these mushrooms is still considered a serious drug offense. Possession of a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance, of which mushrooms are still considered, can be charged and prosecuted as a third-degree offense. If you are found with over an ounce of these mushrooms, you can still face up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $35,000. Furthermore, you will have a criminal record that may follow you for the rest of your life.
What is Considered Hallucinogenic Mushroom Possession?
Simple possession in New Jersey under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-10 is simply having the mushrooms on you. Under possession laws, it is unlawful to
- Obtain or possess them
- To use or be under the influence of them
- Fail to turn those in your possession over to a law enforcement officer.
If you were in possession of these mushrooms with the intent to sell them to someone else or even just share them, you may face higher penalties for distribution.