New Jersey Is Legalizing Pot, But Cops Can Still Tell Underage Users’ Parents

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill Friday letting police notify parents if their children are caught with alcohol or marijuana.

The law signed Friday requires officers to provide written notification to parents and guardians when anyone under 18 is caught, according to a statement from Murphy’s office. A third violation would result in a referral to social services.

The measure fixes a clause in marijuana legalization legislation passed weeks earlier that barred cops from informing parents. The pot bill, pushed by Democratic lawmakers, had aimed to prevent confrontations between law enforcement and young people of color. But Murphy had said he wouldn’t approve a legal cannabis industry or end arrests for possession without a bill that clarifies penalties for people under 21. Legal sales are still months away.

The new law keeps the warnings secret and separate from other law-enforcement records and police could face civil-rights charges for releasing them.

Senate Republicans said in a Thursday news release that police officers need more protection.

“Even with this fix to allow appropriate parental notification, the third degree criminal charge hanging over officers’ heads is enough to discourage anyone from investigating underage possession complaints altogether,” said Senator Declan O’Scanlon.

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