If you think your son or daughter got in trouble for smoking pot, you can no longer ask police about it
If your son or daughter gets in trouble for smoking or possessing Marijuana under the age of 18, you won't know about it, unless your child tells you what they did.
Police officers could be criminally charged for doing what used to be part of their job.
All these glaring oversights and more are part of the new Marijuana law in New Jersey signed by Governor Phil Murphy last week.
Point Pleasant Beach Police Chief Joseph Michigan, who is also the President in 2021 of the Ocean County Police Chiefs Association, was stunned to see the immediate requirements by Governor Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on how police are supposed to enforce these new guidelines and all the questions that still remain.
"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.
Under the new New Jersey Marijuana law, if you're under 18 and have burning weed in the car, police no longer have probable cause to search the vehicle for possession or conduct a CDS investigation.
Even if someone is walking down the street smoking marijuana, police can't conduct an investigation.
First offense for a minor is a warning and parents do not get notified, second offense anywhere (not one or two per town, combined overall) police document the incident in a warning system and parents can be notified and then the juvenile gets a referral for treatment.
If you, as a parent, suspect that maybe your son or daughter's behavior has changed, they're hanging with different crowds and they smell like they've been around someone smoking or touching marijuana you ask them what's going on, if they were in any trouble with the police...they can lie and tell you no and you have no way of knowing the truth.
Police are no longer legally allowed to tell you anything.
"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.
There is concern among law enforcement as well heading into the summer of 2021 with recreational marijuana now legal and what kind of problems that could cause for them and for beach communities across the Jersey Shore.
Chief Michigan and Mayor Paul Kanitra in PPB cracked down hard last summer after hundreds gathered on the Jenkinson's Beach and turned it into a scene of chaos, urinating in bushes, throwing bottles wherever, drinking and smoking marijuana.
They don't want a repeat performance by partying beachgoers.
"Am I concerned about that? Absolutely. This is a family-friendly town and we've worked really hard to make this a family destination," Michigan said. "Shore communities certainly are going to see an increase in this type of behavior, it's legal now, so there's no hiding it, it's going to be out in the open, people are going to become familiar with this law and know the limits police departments have and it's not going to take long for the word to get out that cops can't stop you for the smell of burning marijuana."
Police can now face 3rd degree criminal charges for depravation of civil rights if they initiate that type of investigation or detain a minor on that offense, under the new guidelines.
"We're going to be dealing with individuals a lot less, because we can't initiate an investigation if we smell the odor of marijuana. If my officers do investigate, there's something in the law that makes my officers criminally liable," Michigan said. "Not only has this law prevented parent notification, we can't initiate an investigation base don the odor of marijuana and if my officers do, this law than subjects my officers to criminal charges. I think that it's going to really hinder a police officers motivation to go out and do the job, especially if they are threatening criminal charges against police officers."
Find out more about how New Jersey's Marijuana law is impacting you and police:
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