Would you want to know if your son or daughter gets in trouble for smoking Marijuana?
We are in a new New Jersey and under the new Marijuana Law signed last week by Governor Phil Murphy with subsequent guidelines issued to police by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, police are no longer legally allowed to tell you if your son or daughter (under 18) got into trouble for smoking/possessing Marijuana and you can't ask them either.
The new law has brought forth a plethora of questions and what if scenarios, and if you had the choice to know what was going on in your son or daughters life, would you want to know?
Point Pleasant Beach Police Chief Joseph Michigan, who is the 2021 President of the Ocean County Police Chiefs Association, said up until now, they used to try and help the juvenile find help on the first offense and only resort to punishment with charges as a last resort.
No longer the case and it's a concern for Chief Michigan and many others.
"I looked at the new law like every other Chief did and there were a couple things that just stood right out including with the parental notification and not being able to contact a parent on a first offense when we deal with a juvenile goes contrary to everything that we as a police department in Point Pleasant Beach, and elsewhere I would assume, it goes against our policies," Michigan tells Townsquare Media News. "Typically, the last resort is any type of punishment, the last thing we ever want to do is actually punish any juvenile, we want to get them the help."
Chief Michigan says they get that help, in part, at home with their families.
"To take the parental notification out of a first offense, I don't know if that's an oversight or someone thought that would be a good idea to take the parents out of the equation," Michigan said.
You can't ask police about any warning either, they aren't allowed to tell you.
"If a parent actively seeks us out and says 'hey, did you deal with our child here before?', based on the guidance that I see so far, it says I shall not contact a parent, so I would take that to say I can't even inform the parent," Michigan said.
It's not just affecting police, but Republican lawmakers in Trenton are pushing to include parents in the notification process in hopes of tweaking the new law to make sure there is communication between police and moms and dads.
“This latest law is another step by New Jersey Democrats to cut parents out of parenting,” Senator Michael Doherty (R-23) said in a statement. “They’re already legislating liberal values into our public school curriculum in an attempt to supersede family values, and they’re working hard to eliminate the right of parents to make important medical decisions for their children. Now they’re saying parents don’t need to be notified when kids are caught using drugs or alcohol. This erosion of parental rights should frighten every single mom and dad in New Jersey.”
Senator Doherty explains that the law Democrats in the Legislature passed establishing a written warning system for the underage possession or consumption of marijuana, hashish and cannabis items creates a slippery slope that could negatively impact youth.
“Any amount of underage drinking or drug use is substance abuse," Doherty said. “Keeping parents in the dark once it’s identified is a recipe for disaster. Parents need to know so they can take action when necessary to keep their kids safe.”
State Senate Republican Minority Leader, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, has introduced legislation urging Governor Murphy to repeal this part of the Marijuana law.
“Handcuffing law enforcement from notifying parents if they find a child using drugs or alcohol is irresponsible and dangerous,” Bramnick (R-Union) said in a statement. “Parents should know if their children break the law. Leaving parents out of the equation has nothing to do with social justice.”
Bramnick has also launched an online petition with a similar concept and asks for the public to sign it, which in turn would notify parents if their "underage kids are caught in possession of or using marijuana or alcohol."
Previous reporting by Dino Flammia was used in this report.
You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.