Gopal, Democrats introduce bill to notify parents of first underage marijuana offense

Legislation will change parental notification from the second offense to the minor’s first offense.
Legislators and Advocates Urge for Immediate Action

TRENTON — Senate Majority Conference Leader Vin Gopal, Senator Joe Lagana, Senator Dawn Addiego, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Joann Downey will be introducing legislation to the New Jersey Legislature that will amend P.L.2021, c.25. The new legislation would require parental notification upon the first violation of underage possession or consumption of alcohol, cannabis item, marijuana or hashish for individuals under the age of 18. As the law stands, parental notification is currently only required at the second incident. 

Senator Gopal and Assembly Members Houghtaling and Downey (D-Monmouth) said in a joint statement, “While New Jersey has made recreational Marijuana legal in the state of New Jersey, it is still illegal for minors to possess or consume it. If a minor is caught with these substances, we want their parents to know about it right away. The State cares about a child’s wellbeing, and we want to take every step possible to make the first offense the only offense. Keeping parents involved in these matters will help do just that.”

Senators Lagana and Addiego are joining the bill as prime sponsors

"As a father, I want to know as much about what my kids are doing as possible," said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen). "I think all parents would agree that in the event our kids are found to have used drugs or alcohol, parental notification is essential. Steps towards social justice and greater economic opportunity gained through legalizing marijuana should not be at the cost of parental involvement."

Senator Addiego (D-Burlington) said, “The importance of parental involvement in every aspect of a child's development has been well documented.  Removing parents from a moment as pivotal as being caught breaking the law runs contrary to common recommended practice and quite honestly common sense."  

The legislators received overwhelming support for this bill from local clergy and community leaders as well.

“Even though marijuana has been legalized, you cannot take the parents right away to know if their child has been using marijuana or alcohol,” stated Long Branch NAACP President Lorenzo ‘Bill’ Dangler.

“I fully support parental notification if a minor is apprehended with alcohol and/or cannabis. Parents are required according to biblical principles to raise children to be law-abiding citizens.” stated Bishop Paul Brown, First Pentecostal Assembly of God, Neptune, New Jersey.

“I am in support of parents being notified when youth under the age of 18 are found in possession of or in use of marijuana. Any other decision would lessen the controls and responsibilities of  parents and the schools,” stated Dianna Harris, MURC President. 
“I am in favor of parents being notified if minors are caught with alcohol or marijuana. Parents need to be able to correct illegal behavior of minors, before something tragic happens,” stated Reverend Edmond Lee Sr. from Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.
 
Community leaders Pastor Terrence K. Porter of Pilgrim Baptist Church, Teretha Jones of the Concerned Black Nurses of Central New Jersey, and Education advocate Tasha Youngblood Brown are among the many leaders who expressed support for this bill.


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