Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law on Friday that requires police to tell parents when their kids have marijuana in New Jersey.
The bill, A-5472, "requires law enforcement to provide written notification to a parent or guardian of anyone under age 18 who commits first offense of unlawfully possessing or consuming an alcoholic beverage, cannabis, marijuana, or hashish."
Murphy hinted that the change could be coming earlier this month.
Top-ranking Democrats in the Senate are working to draft a bill on homegrown marijuana, but the legislation likely won’t allow New Jerseyans to grow their own cannabis, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
“The first topic was really the significance of the penalties for home growing right now. It’s like drug manufacturing, a serious felony charge,” said State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden). “You do a lot of years if you get caught growing your own marijuana right now, so there’s been just some initial discussions if maybe those penalties are too severe.”
On Monday, for the first time, the governor said he supports making the changes.
"I spoke to the Senate President (Steve Sweeney) on Saturday and, without getting too much into the weeds, no pun intended, on the notification question, I personally think that's a step in the right direction," said Murphy when asked by a reporter.
Update: After this story was published, the Assembly cancelled its Friday voting session and five committee meetings slated for the same day.
Lawmakers in the Senate reversed course Thursday after abandoning an effort to pass a marijuana cleanup bill they hope will convince Gov. Phil Murphy to sign legalization and decriminalization bills on his desk a day earlier, and Assembly leaders are discussing delaying proceedings set for Friday to provide more time for negotiations, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Update: Citing fluid negotiations, an administration official said they do not expect vetoes tomorrow as of Thursday evening.
The Senate will not concur with conditional vetoes Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to make on marijuana legalization and decriminalization bills Friday, Senate President Steve Sweeney told the New Jersey Globe Thursday afternoon.
“If the governor CVs the bills on his desk, we’re starting brand new. I will not concur with a CV,” Sweeney said. “I can’t make it any clearer than that, and I’ve made the administration understand that too.”
Fix the bill after it’s passed?
“I understand the governor’s concerns — I actually agree with him — but we just didn’t have the votes to get it done,” said Scutari, who has been trying to legalize marijuana in New Jersey for a decade. “But there comes a time when we need to get this moving. There are many things we’re going to have to go back and fix later.”
With just a few days left for Gov. Phil Murphy and Democratic lawmakers to fulfill voters' wishes to legalize marijuana, they've gotten hung up on details that could add yet another delay to what's been years of failures and setbacks to bring the drug to the marketplace.
Murphy said Monday that there were "technical but important" issues with a bill to decriminalize marijuana that the Legislature sent him earlier this month.
As with all things cannabis in New Jersey, Thursday’s historic vote was marked by dysfunction, vicious political infighting and resentment.
Shortly after moving the bill to the floor with an emotional speech meant to cap his yearslong legalization effort, Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the lead sponsor, got into a shouting match with Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex), head of the Legislative Black Caucus and a cannabis opponent, over who had done more (or less) for disadvantaged communities.
Legislative leaders finally announced they had agreed on a proposed plan on December 4th in a joint statement from Governor Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari, and Assembly Majority Conference Chair Annette Quijano: “We’ve reached an agreement on legislation providing the framework for legalization, which is a critical step in reducing racial disparities and social inequities that have long plagued our criminal justice system.
On Election Day, more than two thirds of voters in the state approved a constitutional amendment that legalized cannabis for adults 21 and over in the state.
However, Public Question No. 1 did not establish key rules like possession limits, and did not specify who would be allowed to cultivate and sell commercial cannabis in stores—or how citizens were supposed to access cannabis, at all.
On Monday, so-called “enabling legislation” to do all that passed a state Senate committee.