By Matt Rooney
New Jersey voters amended the state constitution to permit legalized recreational marijuana last November, Save Jerseyans, but it took 3 1/2 more months for Governor Phil Murphy to sign legislation putting the voters’ intent into effect.
The legislative compromise rushed to conclusion on Monday addresses decriminalization, sale for recreational use, and even prior convictions. It also makes
The legislation (S-3454) provides that parents will NOT be notified – and juveniles will only received a warning – if the police catch them in possession of marijuana or hashish OR alcohol. Parents are only notified upon a second offense. Third offense result in a referral to drug program(s).
Your local police officers’ hands are now tied.
As the bill’s statement explains, “[a] person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages or cannabis items would not be capable, under the provisions of the bill, of giving lawful consent to a search to determine an underage possession or consumption violation, and a law enforcement officer would not be permitted to request that a person consent to a search for that purpose.” They can’t detain longer than it takes to issue a warning; the body camera needs to be turned on, too.
So law enforcement is virtually POWERLESS to do anything about your kids (and by kids we mean 17 year olds here, folks) smoking pot and drinking hard liquor at the beach this summer. Oh, but it gets better.
“The odor of alcoholic beverages, marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or cannabis item, or burnt marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or cannabis item, would not constitute reasonable articulable suspicion to initiate an investigatory stop of a person, nor would it constitute probable cause to initiate a search of a person or that person’s personal property to determine an underage possession or consumption violation,” the statement continues. “Additionally, the unconcealed, underage possession of an alcoholic beverage, marijuana, hashish, or cannabis item, observed in plain sight by a law enforcement officer, would not constitute probable cause to initiate a search of a person or that person’s personal property to determine any further unlawful possession or consumption violation or any other violation of law.”
If the police violate some of the new provisions restricting their activity contained in this legislation? THEY can be criminally charged.
“The legislation is treacherous to you because it creates a penalty of 3rd Degree Deprivation of Civil Rights if an officer uses the odor or possession of marijuana or alcoholic beverages as the reason for initiating an investigatory stop of a person,” explained the state PBA in a statement. ” The new law states a law enforcement officer can not use the odor of marijuana or alcohol as reasonable articulable suspicion to initiate an investigatory stop. The new law states a minor CAN NOT consent to be searched and that a law enforcement officer no longer has probable cause to search a minor for illegally using marijuana or alcohol. And if an officer violates a minor’s rights by using pot or alcohol as the reason for a search then the officer will be charged with deprivation of civil rights.”
It’s a clear over-correction to the original “compromise” bill that levied harsher penalties for alcohol than pot, one which the “defund the police” social justice warriors who run the State House apparently believe is something less than what it is: insane.
Some Republicans were quick to pounce after the flurry of legislative activity.
“It is a sad day for parents and police,” said Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-25). “Democrats have sacrificed the safety of children under the guise of social justice. How on earth can anyone justify making it virtually legal for kids to possess and use drugs and alcohol underage, while simultaneously making our cops criminals for trying to stop them. We are worse off today than we were yesterday, and I fear for the future of our children.”
“Parents are hauled down to the police station if they let their 8-year-old walk to the park alone, but Democrats apparently think they shouldn’t even be notified if the same child is caught by police smoking pot or drinking alcohol,” added state Senator Mike Testa (R-1) in his own statement. “It’s absolute insanity to say that parents don’t have a right to know. Every single teenager will know two minutes after this bill is signed into law that police will be powerless to stop them from drinking or smoking pot. They’ll use the written warning they get to roll their next joint, which they’ll be able to do because the law will prevent police from searching for their stash even if they catch the kids in a cloud of smoke. It’s an embarrassment.”
Embarrassing is putting it mildly.
Our friend Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) put it best: “pot for tots.”
“Trenton Dems are turning [the] world upside down,” tweeted Webber.
Most cops don’t enjoy busting kids smoking weed. They’re trying to protect your 16 year old from drinking and smoking, hoping in a car, and ending up dead on the Parkway. They’re still too immature to know how to use this stuff in a safe manner.
The Murphy Democrats have once again chosen wokeness over common sense. Underage drinking and pot smoking is now de facto legal in New Jersey. Warnings only. Police who overstep the new regs (and there are a lot of them) could face 3rd degree (!) criminal penalties.