Arnone Report: Commissioner Director wants to know if Legislators knew that they were outlawing parental notification by police for kids’ pot and alcohol usage
By Monmouth County Commissioner Director Tom Arnone
There is a very important topic I would like to focus on this week.
As we all know, the majority of New Jersey residents last fall voted in favor to legalize marijuana for use by adults at least 21 years of age. There is no question, nor debate, on the outcome of the ballot question.
However, in a last-minute maneuver, the Legislature decided to introduce and approve legislation – now law – that prohibits law enforcement from notifying parents if their child is caught using or in possession of marijuana or alcohol on the first offense.
In fact, the Legislature took it one step further and added a provision in the bill that will now make law enforcement officers “guilty of a crime” if they do notify the parents on the child’s first offense. This not only sweeps aside the judgment of parents over the lives of their children, it also ties the hands of law enforcement in respect to keeping our children and communities safe.
Not only does this keep parents in the dark about what may be happening in their child’s lives, it also shows children there are no major consequences if they’re found using marijuana or alcohol for the first time. Parents should have the right to know if their child is using or in possession of marijuana from the first encounter and be given the chance to discuss its consequences before it potentially becomes a larger issue.
Again, there’s no debate on the legalization of marijuana. We’re past that. The real question now is why did the Legislature vote last week on this new provision that decreases police and community relations and keeps parents in the dark about the welfare of their own children?
I want to know if the Legislature knew this provision would be introduced – and introduced with just minutes left until marijuana was scheduled to become legalized in New Jersey – and if so, why did they not make their intentions clear prior to the vote last election? If they didn’t know, then why did they vote in favor last week of such a harmful bill?
This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s a matter of right and wrong. I will not stop questioning the decisions of the Legislature until I get an answer to why this damaging bill was passed.
As always, it’s a privilege to serve as your Commissioner Director