Ocean County Police Chiefs Launch Online Petition to Repeal State Marijuana Law
While the part of the State Marijuana Law where police were not allowed to inform parents the first time their underage son or daughter was caught with marijuana or alcohol, there is another glaring issue with the law that hasn't been changed which leaves the door open for police to face criminal charges for Depravation of Civil Rights for initiating an investigation.
Since the law was signed in February by Governor Murphy, police across Ocean County have continued to push for change and they have a community of local government leaders and residents behind them.
Last weekend, at a press conference in Point Pleasant Beach several Ocean County Police Chiefs including Point Pleasant Beach Chief Joseph Michigan, who is President of the Ocean County Chiefs of Police Association and spoke at the press conference, voiced their concerns with the bill and pushed for change.
Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy, Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little, Jackson Police Chief Matthew Kunz, Brick Police Chief James Riccio, Lacey Police Chief Michael DiBella, Harvey Cedars Police Chief Robert Burnaford, Little Egg Harbor Police Chief Richard Buzby and Berkeley Police Captain George Dohn were among the Ocean County Police Chiefs and Departments in attendance in PPB as well.
Today, the Ocean County Chiefs of Police Association and President Joseph Michigan with Point Pleasant Beach Police, launched an online petition looking to continue building public support and asking you to take a couple seconds to sign it.
Here is the statement from the OCCPA and Chief Michigan:
"Language in the new marijuana legislation disrupts the holistic, community-based approach we take to keep our children healthy and safe. We believe minors are best served when parents can work in conjunction with the people who teach, coach, mentor and protect our youth. Unfortunately, the new legislation signed into law by Governor Murphy prohibits the police from participating in that collaborative effort by threatening them with criminal charges should they engage minors who are obviously violating the law.
We understand the will of New Jersey voters in electing to legalize marijuana. We have no issue with the legal usage of cannabis for those of age, but minors are still prohibited under the law to use or possess alcohol and marijuana. Though this legislation has been amended to allow for parental notification, it only serves to provide a false sense of security to parents.
Police use the power of observation to perform their duties as community caretakers, emergency aid providers, keepers of the peace, and law enforcement officers. This involves utilizing all of one's senses, including the sense of smell. One of the most conspicuous manifestations of marijuana and alcohol use is the odor associated with their ingestion.
Under the current legislation minors can be observed smoking marijuana by a police officer, but if that police officer stops or detains that minor based on the odor, that officer will face serious sanctions, including being charged with the Crime of Official Deprivation of Civil Rights. If officers are so discouraged from engaging minors using drugs and alcohol in the first place, what good is the parental notification amendment?
The laws are unclear and confusing, and they discourage police interaction with at-risk youth by threatening to punish officers for doing their jobs.
The legislation must be corrected. Sign your name to let Trenton know that you support this effort. Allow police officers to participate in the collaborative societal effort to care for our children, and remove the threatening language against officers who seek to simply do their jobs."