SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka recently expressed concerns regarding the new rules about underaged possesion of marijuana, saying that he disagrees with provisions which forbid police from informing parents, in a message submitted to the South Brunswick community on Friday.
Recreational use of marijuana in New Jersey was approved in the 2020 general election with over 67% of voters approving the legislation. Last week, Governor Murphy signed into law a series of bills which decriminalized the use of marijuana in the state. Cannabis is still unavailable for legal purchase in the state at this time.
One of the bills signed into law concerns people under 21 who are in possession or consume marijuana. Under the current law, underaged people caught drinking or with marijuana can face up to $1,000 in fines or six months in jail.
The new law creates a three strike rule for underaged people caught with marijuana or alcohol. First offense is a written warning, second offense provides individuals with materials on drug treatment services, and the third offense forces police to refer the juvenile to a drug treatment program.
The first offense forbids police from informing parents about their child being caught drinking or with marijuana. The second and third offense allows them to inform the parents.
Chief Hayducka believes that parents should be informed during the first offense so they can address the issue as parents. Hayducka also expressed concerns about the tracking system: "There is no central database for juveniles arrested for possession, making it impossible to know if it is a first offense unless it occurred in the same township."
Chief Hayducka stated that the South Brunswick Police Department will comply with the law as written. Police officers have taken classroom training about the new marijuana laws with documents from the Attorney General’s office, according to an email. Hayducka said that he reached out to lawmakers to express his concerns, as did several police chiefs in the state.
In the past year, only three South Brunswick residents were arrested for possession of marijuana. None of them were under the age of 18, according to the police department.