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Smoke shop search leaves two men facing drug possession charges

Some of our readers may think it is strange that so-called tobacco shops are able to sell pipes, bongs and rolling papers - all of which are associated with the use of marijuana - openly to the public. The distinction is that these shops operate under the wink-and-nod assumption that they are only selling these items for tobacco use, which is completely legal. The reality, however, is that anyone who goes to one of these shops - or who works for one - may find themselves under the suspicion of New Jersey law enforcement officials who are investigating drug crimes.

Take, for instance, a recent case involving a smoke shop called Serenity Tobacco located in Ledgewood. Local police officers were investigating the shop for potential illegal drug violations, and in the course of the investigation one officer allegedly purchased marijuana from a store employee on multiple occasions. These sales lead to a search warrant being executed on June 7.

During the search two individuals were arrested, including the employee who was alleged to have sold marijuana to the undercover police officer. Another individual was arrested in the back of the store after he was allegedly found to be in possession of marijuana. Both individuals will face a variety of drug possession charges, and the employee who reportedly sold the marijuana will face drug distribution charges as well.

Although marijuana is not considered to be a "hard" drug like heroin or cocaine, it is nonetheless still illegal. And while simple possession may be a misdemeanor, facing allegations of selling marijuana could potentially be a serious felony charge. Most criminal defense strategies in these types of cases involve a thorough review of the search warrant that was used, as well as additional steps to get evidence suppressed.

Source: New Jersey Herald, "Police arrest two in drug deals at store," June 11, 2014

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