The revised law for under-21s in possession of cannabis or alcohol would operate on a tier system. The first instance would earn a written warning; for the second, parents or guardians would be alerted and given information on educational programs for drug use; for the third, the underage person would be referred to available community services.
“Holistically, what this law does is it would take away a lot of tools that police have used and weaponized over the years to target certain communities,” Amol Sinha, executive director of ACLU-NJ, told Filter. “You wouldn’t be able to use the odor of marijuana any longer to initiate searches.”
At the Point Pleasant protest, the ongoing conflict was on full display. Joseph Michigan, the Point Pleasant Beach police chief and president of the Police Chiefs Association, stated that “this legislation turns our kids into innocent collateral damage in the quest for social justice in New Jersey.” Mayor Kanitra called it the “latest hot piece of garbage out of the statehouse.”
Each speaker echoed the fears laid out on the banner behind them: that this would villianize officers and prevent them from doing their jobs.
“This is a disgusting piece of legislation,” State Senator Singer said to the crowd. “Now I’m sitting on the beach with my family,” he continued. “We smell marijuana. We see some kids drinking. We go over to the lifeguard station. They call the beach patrol. You know what’s going to happen. They’re going to come to me and say, ‘Sir, you’re going to have to move.’” Neither Kanitra nor Singer responded to Filter’s request for comment.