WESTFIELD, NJ — The town’s police chief on Thursday had praise for New Jersey legislators’ decision to overturn a state law that prohibited police from notifying parents of their children’s first-time marijuana offenses.

Police Chief Christopher Battiloro pointed to the “extreme displeasure” voiced by both law enforcement and parents over that particular provision, which he said was contrary to the department’s efforts to work in youths’ best interests. Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy had signed the bipartisan bill in support of parent notification for first time pot offenses.

“I think state legislators heard our extreme displeasure — not just that of law enforcement, but that of parents as well — with the restriction placed on notifying parents of first violations of marijuana possession by persons under 18 years of age,” Battiloro told TAPinto Westfield.

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Police in Westfield, he said, view communication with parents as key.

“We, the police, have always stressed the need for open communication with parents and the people we serve,” Battiloro said. “That legal restriction was irrational, and it unjustly countermanded our sincere efforts to always act in the best interests of our children.”

Overturning that provision in the law had gained wide support from both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature.

While Battiloro said approval of the parental notification provision is a start, he believes there is more work to be done with regard to implementation of the new marijuana law.

“There is still far too much ambiguity in how law enforcement can and will uniformly enforce some of the provisions of these new laws going forward,” he said. “We are not getting any definitive direction from the Office of the Attorney General on how to address certain issues, such as a system for recording written warnings.”

Despite his view that the marijuana legislation does not provide enough guidance to law enforcement, Battiloro said, his officers will enforce the statutes fairly.

“We will, however, always do our best to fairly and impartially enforce these new laws to the best of our ability, as is our sworn duty,” he said.

The broader issue of legal marijuana has in Westfield, like in other places, has become politicized following the state’s decision by referendum to make it legal.

Mayor Shelley Brindle last month formed a “Cannabis Commission” to decide if the town should allow for marijuana dispensaries within its borders.

The commission, Brindle announced, will include representatives from local law enforcement, municipal government, the board of health, the Human Relations Advisory Commission and Downtown Westfield Corporation, among others.

Former Councilwoman JoAnn Neylan, a candidate for mayor, however, has opposed marijuana dispensaries in Westfield saying in a statement that she would propose a local law to keep such establishments out of the town.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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