Cape May County Among Top Areas in NJ With Most Reported Heroin Abuse.
New Jersey’s heroin use has spiked to epidemic levels. The drug has not only infested New Jersey’s urban cities but is also affecting suburban areas through Cape May and Atlantic Counties. The 2014 Substance Review Overview for Cape May County which was released in May, 2015 reflects Lower Township as 14th on a list of the top 30 towns with the most reported heroin abuse. Lower Township is just one of several Cape May County communities dealing with an increase in heroin abuse. Cape May County had the highest rate of heroin and opiate abuse of any county per capita in New Jersey in 2012 and Lower Township had 185 reported cases of heroin abuse in 2014. It should be noted that the data reported refers only to treatment statistics and does not represent a measure of the substance abuse/use problem directly.
The epidemic has become so bad that Middle Township decided to staff its municipal court with a drug counselor in October, 2014 becoming the second town in New Jersey to do so in an attempt to steer drug users toward treatment at the municipal-court level.
The possible penalties for heroin charges include:
Possession of less than half an ounce: 18 months to five years imprisonment and fines of up to $35,000
Possession with intent to Distribute (less than half an ounce: Up to five years imprisonment and fines of up to $75,000
Possession of half an ounce to five ounces: 18 months to five years imprisonment
Possession of more than five ounces: A fixed prison sentence of 10 to 20 years and fines of up to $500,000
Heroin Trafficking: Life in prison with a 25 year minimum term before parole eligibility. Up to $500,000 in fines
Selling in a School Zone: A fixed prison term and fines of up to $100,000.
Heroin represents a serious dilemma in New Jersey and Cape May County. Statewide 35 to 44-year-olds represent the highest percentage (20 percent) of those being treated. Statistically 59 percent of all being treated also suffered from mental health problems and arrest data in 2014 reflects that 1,866 individuals were arrested within 30 days of treatment (3 percent).
Smaller communities such as Lower Township have seen their heroin treatment cases go up which shows that the heroin epidemic is not just a problem in large urban cities anymore.