NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) — There is a call to update New Jersey’s recently passed marijuana law so parents would be notified if their children are caught in possession of pot or alcohol – and so police would not be criminally liable for their interactions.
Leaders down the shore held an event Saturday to educate the public about the new law, under which police are not allowed to contact the parents of children caught using or in possession of marijuana or alcohol for the first time, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.READ MORE: David Gilbert, Man Convicted In Deadly 1981 Bank Heist In Rockland County, Granted Parole
“The wording on the ballot that those parents voted for just said, ‘Are you for legalizing marijuana for adults?’ It didn’t say, ‘Are you going to give up your parental rights?’ Or, ‘Do you want police to be held criminally liable?'” said Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra.
“Essentially legalizes marijuana and alcohol use for minors, and it’s going to create all sorts of problems here,” said Joe Michigan, chief of police in Point Pleasant Beach.
It will be difficult to determine if it’s a minor’s first offense if police cannot detain them to ask questions.
Chief Michigan said other factors leave officers’ hands tied. For example, an officer accused of detaining a person longer than necessary to investigate a complaint could face jail time and steep fines.READ MORE: What's Causing Record Flooding? Experts Say Missing, Dying Trees Are One Reason
“If my officers did start an investigation for a juvenile for the odor, they’re subjected to a criminal charge about deprivation of civil rights,” said Michigan, who’s also president of the Ocean County Police Chiefs Association.
“Anytime a cop interacts with a young person, they are putting themselves in jeopardy to be charged criminally, just the slightest detainment,” said State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R).
O’Scanlon introduced a bill to change these liabilities and allow police to contact parents and question minors without fear of getting in trouble.
This is of particular concern in communities of color. Gov. Phil Murphy has said time and time again, marijuana was decriminalized for social justice.
Last week, when asked, Murphy said he supported updating the bill to allow parents to be notified.MORE NEWS: Candidate Conversations: Eric Adams
CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.