Toms River Police Chief Says Marijuana Bill is “Indefensible, It Must Be Fixed”
Voices of concern and disappointment have grown louder, red flags are being raised even higher and the push for a full reversal of the new Marijuana Law Governor Phil Murphy signed this year continues to gain steam among parents, police and communities at the Jersey Shore.
For weeks now, police departments across Ocean and Monmouth Counties have denounced the Marijuana Law in its current state for a number of glaring and obvious reasons including this past Saturday at a press conference in Point Pleasant Beach where several of them including PPB Chief Joseph Michigan, who 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 Sergeant George Dohn were among the Ocean County Police Chiefs and Departments in attendance in PPB as well.
The marijuana law currently prevents police from notifying parents if their son or daughter is in trouble with the law for underage drinking and/or marijuana use.
That issue is on its way to being resolved but not without strings attached.
Police officers do and still would be subject to criminal charges in the affect of a 3rd Degree Crime for Depravation of Civil Rights, meaning possible prison time and/or a hefty fine on top of possibly being sued in civil court, meaning they could possibly lose their jobs, pensions, benefits and other costly necessities.
There are certain lawmakers trying to revoke immunity protection for police as part of this law in its current form and moving forward.
Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little released a statement on Monday on social media calling for a reversal of this marijuana law not just for them but to be able to provide the protection for the community that every police chief wants to provide for their communities, to thwart crime and ensure safety for all.
Here is an excerpt of the statement from Chief Little that you can also read, in full, below.
"On February 22, Governor Phillip Murphy signed three laws which decriminalized marijuana and set out orders to have previous convictions and/or pending cases dismissed. This was expected as a majority of New Jersey residents voted to have marijuana legalized in the state.
What was not expected was the denial of parental access to information regarding their child's marijuana or alcohol use, restrictions of investigations based on odor and the criminal liability for officers deemed to be violating this law.
Unlike the state of New Jersey, we believe parents deserve and need to know when their children are in dangerous situations.
Reviewing the new policy, what presents itself as most problematic is the inability to freely communicate with parents.
We see these laws as not only counterproductive but also as a detriment to the safety of our children.
The greatest strengths we had as law enforcement officers was our ability to foster positive relationships and build trust within the communities we serve."