Police officers may no longer face criminal charges on Marijuana arrest, under proposed bill
One of the glaring, eyebrow raising issues police everywhere, some legislators and residents have with the Marijuana bill Governor Murphy signed is that an officer may face 3rd Degree Criminal charges for doing what used to be their job until two weeks ago, questioning or initiating an investigation in possession or lawlessness of someone with weed.
The way things currently stand is that police can 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," Point Pleasant Beach Police Chief Joseph Michigan told Townsquare Media News. "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."
Monmouth County State Senator Declan O'Scanlon (R) and Morris County State Senator Anthony Bucco are now teaming up to eliminate any potential charges against police and try and repeal some other problems they say are within the law right now.
They are introducing legislation to restore liability protections for police during a marijuana-related interaction with anyone under 18-years old and another piece of legislation to repeal a new law prohibiting law enforcement from notifying parents if their child is caught possessing alcohol or marijuana.
“The new marijuana law that was recently passed is one of the most unworkable and counter-productive pieces of legislation that I have ever seen,” O’Scanlon said in a statement. “It is unworkable in its current form, a threat to the public safety, and exposes law enforcement to frivolous criminal liability.”
Under the new and current law an officer could be charged for inconsequential errors when dealing with an individual under the now-legal age of 21.
“The police are going to be punished for doing their jobs. This is an attack on law enforcement that places the police in a position if they make even the slightest mistake when dealing with under-age possession charges that they are a third degree felon,” O’Scanlon said.
Both Senators say they want to overturn the anti-police component of New Jersey’s marijuana legalization and repeal an aspect that robs parents of some of their influence.
The new law specifically prohibits the police from notifying parents when a minor is found in possession of or using marijuana and alcohol.
“This is another example of Democrat ideology that the state knows what’s best for our families, usurping the role of parents in the lives of their children. This new law is a direct attack on family values, further eroding the influence of mom or dad in raising their children," Bucco said in a statement. "For generations, a call from the police station advising that your child was drinking with friends or involved with drugs was more effective than any arrest or court appearance. It should be the duty and responsibility of law enforcement to let parents know when kids are breaking the law, especially when it involves a behavior that left unchecked could lead to more serious issues down the road. A law that prohibits the police from informing a mom or dad that their child is playing with fire will lead to societal problems that will take decades to reverse. My guess is that those that supported legalization never envisioned provisions such as these and we need to fix them.”
There is also concern right now among law enforcement 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.
"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," Chief Michigan said.