Assemblyman Kean looks to halt NJ marijuana law from criminalizing cops

Measures that expose police officers to potential criminal liability if they search an underage person for marijuana or alcohol would be delayed by a year under legislation (A5833) introduced by Assemblyman Sean T. Kean.

“This extension will allow law enforcement to adjust to these significant changes. It will also provide all New Jersey residents, including parents, time to understand the recent changes to marijuana laws,” said Kean (R-Monmouth). “I have been contacted by local mayors, law enforcement, and families who have great concerns about how the new laws will affect police officers and the quality of life in our beach towns.”

The Legislature passed three bills in February that permit and regulate adult use of recreational marijuana that make policing tougher and reduce the quality of life at the Shore. Provisions expose police officers to potential criminal liability if they search an underage person when responding to calls related to underage use of marijuana or alcohol.

“There needs to be greater awareness about these major changes, especially here where we have so many summer attractions and visitors,” explained Kean. “For example, if a person alerts the police to teens drinking beer or smoking marijuana on the beach or in a park, police officers will be extremely limited in their response.”

Kean says the criminal liability provision should be completely rescinded and has another bill that would repeal this section of law.

“The law is poorly written, and is going to be very problematic for the police, municipal officials, town residents and families visiting the beach and boardwalk. Kids and young adults will learn that there are no repercussions for smoking pot or drinking in public,” added Kean. “We should repeal the police liability provision, or at least delay it, so that law enforcement and New Jersey residents can adjust to the new law.”

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