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New Jersey Drug Laws

New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer – Anthony N. Palumbo

Drug crimes cover a broad range of offenses involving controlled substances, from possession and sale to manufacture and distribution. Federal and state drug laws can be difficult to understand, however, unless you’re equipped with definitions of their key terms.

This page provides an overview of the main terms and definitions used in New Jersey’s drug laws. For more information and a free initial consultation, contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, through the email form on this website or at 908-272-9700 . As a partner at The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo and an aggressive and knowledgeable drug defense lawyer with more than 35 years of criminal trial experience, I know what it takes to vigorously fight drug charges and get the best result in your case.


One of the most important terms used in New Jersey’s drug laws is “controlled dangerous substance” (CDS), which is defined to include drugs in Schedules I through V and any other drugs or substances which, when ingested, are metabolized or otherwise become a CDS in the human body. Alcohol and tobacco are not considered to be CDS.

Controlled dangerous substances also include “controlled substance analogs,” which are substances with chemical structures that are substantially similar to a CDS and that were specifically designed to mimic the effect of the CDS.

“Schedules I through V” refer to the different classifications of illegal and prescription drugs in New Jersey. (The federal government has established similar Schedules.) Because New Jersey’s Schedules are based, in part, on the addictiveness of different drugs, the statute provides a definition of “drug or alcohol dependent person.” The term, according to the statute, means a person who is psychologically or physically dependent on a CDS, a controlled substance analog, or alcohol, with the dependence arising from continuous or repetitive drug or alcohol use. The statute also provides that drug and alcohol dependence are characterized by behavioral and other responses, including a strong compulsion to take the substance on a recurring basis in order to experience its psychological effects or to avoid the discomfort of withdrawal.

Certain drugs are specifically defined under the New Jersey CDS laws:

  • “Narcotic drug” means any of the following, whether produced directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of vegetable origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis:
    • Opium, coca leaves, and opiates;
    • Any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, or preparation of opium, coca leaves, or opiates;
    • Any substance, and any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, or preparation thereof, which is chemically identical with a narcotic drug.
  • “Opiate” means any dangerous substance having an addiction-forming or addiction-sustaining liability similar to morphine or being capable of conversion into a drug having such addiction-forming or addiction-sustaining liabilities.
  • “Opium poppy” means the plant of the species Papaver somniferum L., except the seeds thereof.
  • “Poppy straw” means all parts of the opium poppy left after mowing, excluding the seeds.
  • “Stramonium preparation” means a substance prepared from any part of the Datura Stramonium Linne plant (commonly known as Jimson weed) whether in the form of a powder, pipe mixture, cigarette, or any other form.

The statute also provides a definition for prescription drugs: “Prescription legend drug” means any drug which, under federal or State law, requires dispensing by prescription or order of a licensed physician, veterinarian or dentist and is required to bear the statement “Rx only” or similar wording.

To explain when prescription drugs can be lawfully used, the statute includes several definitions related to medical drug use:

  • “Administer” means the direct application of a CDS or controlled substance analog, whether by injection, inhalation, ingestion, or any other means, to the body of a patient or research subject by either a practitioner or the patient/ research subject at the lawful direction and in the presence of the practitioner.
  • “Dispense” means to deliver a CDS or controlled substance analog to an ultimate user pursuant to the lawful order of a practitioner, including the prescribing, administering, packaging, labeling, or compounding necessary to prepare the substance for that delivery.
  • “Dispenser” means a practitioner who dispenses.
  • “Practitioner” means a physician, dentist, veterinarian, scientific investigator, laboratory, pharmacy, hospital or other person licensed, registered, or otherwise permitted to distribute, dispense, conduct research, or administer a CDS or controlled substance analog in the course of professional practice or research.
  • “Ultimate user” means a person who lawfully possesses a CDS or controlled substance analog for his own use or for the use of a member of his household.

Next, consider the terms that describe illegal drug activity:

  • “Deliver” or “delivery” means the actual, constructive, or attempted transfer from one person to another of a CDS or controlled substance analog.
  • “Distribute” means to deliver other than by administering or dispensing a CDS or controlled substance analog.
  • “Distributor” means a person who distributes.
  • “Manufacture” means the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion or processing of a CDS or controlled substance analog, either by extraction from substances of natural origin or by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis. “Manufacture” includes any packaging or repackaging of the substance or labeling of its container, except that this term does not include the preparation or compounding of a CDS or controlled substance analog by an individual for his own use or the preparation, compounding, packaging, or labeling of a controlled dangerous substance: (1) by a practitioner as an incident to his administering or dispensing a CDS or controlled substance analog, or (2) by a practitioner for the purpose of, or as an incident to, research, teaching, or chemical analysis and not for sale.
  • “Production” includes the manufacture, planting, cultivation, growing, or harvesting of a CDS or controlled substance analog.

Understanding New Jersey’s Drug Laws

If you’ve been charged with a drug crime in New Jersey, the most important thing you can do to protect your rights is to consult with an aggressive and experienced Drug Crimes Defense Attorney. Your attorney can help explain what the State needs to get a conviction, what defenses or plea deals might be available to you, and your chances for getting the charges reduced or dismissed.

If you’d like to discuss your case with an experienced attorney, confidentially and at no obligation, contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, through the email form on my website or at 908-272-9700 . I’ve represented people charged with all types of drug charges for more than 35 years, and I can help you fight the charges in your case with a number of strategies, including challenging the evidence and negotiating with prosecutors for a lesser penalty. As an accomplished member of the legal community, a former prosecutor, and a current criminal defense attorney, I know how the system works and how to get the best results in your case.

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