NJ Legislature passes bill requiring parental notification of marijuana offenses

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TRENTON, N.J. — The New Jersey Senate and Assembly unanimously passed a bill Thursday that would notify parents of their underage children being caught possessing marijuana or alcohol.

The bill would revise the state’s recently signed bill that legislated the adult use of marijuana. It passed the senate by a 36-0 vote and the assembly by a 72-0 vote. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats.

The legislation would require parental notification upon the first violation for underage possession or consumption of alcohol, cannabis item, marijuana or hashish by individuals under the age of 18. They would also be notified for any subsequent violations, with the minor subject to a referral to community services.

“Marijuana was legalized for adults, not for children or teenagers,” said Sen. Vin Gopal. “Parents need to be notified if their underage child is using marijuana or alcohol so they can take the appropriate steps to protect them from the potential harmful effects of substance use at young ages and to help them make responsible decisions. Allowing parents to remain involved and informed can help to make sure that first time offenders do not become repeat offenders.”

Current law requires the parent or guardian of the minor to be notified after a second violation and provided information on how to access community-based services.

“With this legislation, we address the many concerns for the lack of parental notification of underage drinking and cannabis use under the cannabis legalization bill recently signed into law,” said Assemblymembers Herb Conaway, Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling and Shanique Speight, all Democrats. “Parents and guardians should be notified of a child’s interaction and their potential harm through the use of alcohol and cannabis. These substances are not meant for children. Diligent notification to their parents will allow for intervention and resources to be employed to help stop underage substance abuse early.”

The bill passed Thursday now goes to Gov. Phil Murphy, about a month after he signed legislation explicitly prohibiting parental notification. The measure was fast tracked, lawmakers said, soon after voters began to complain about the provision in a new law setting up the recreational marijuana marketplace. 

When the bill was initially introduced, Gov. Murphy indicated support for parental notification. The bill now goes to his desk.

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