I’m intelligent enough to realize my letters did not play a part in the New Jersey’s Legislature’s lining up on both sides (Republicans and Democrats) to change the bill signed by our governor, prohibiting police from telling parents that their child was caught engaging in illegal and dangerous activity with drugs or alcohol.

Officials, could have made this process easier had they included the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police in crafting this bill. Professional impute instead of politics. Politicians also have to bear in mind, unlike alcohol, there is no reliable scientifically proven way to test a person for marijuana impairment. Marijuana can remain in one’s system weeks after a person consumes it. Provisions of this law as presented, such as police liability for stopping someone underage for marijuana are outrageous. The law will also open up a Pandora’s Box for lawsuits around jobs where people must remain drug free, like high-risk construction jobs, transportation jobs and even law enforcement (where officers carry guns). From my perspective, this bill has to be corrected, before I can fully support the legalization of recreational marijuana, which the voters of the State of New Jersey approved in the recent election.

I believe I have made my position clear on this bill. As a law-abiding citizen, and retired law enforcement executive, I don’t agree with all aspects, but I can accept it, if changes are made.

As I have explained in my letters, removing parents from being notified when their young sons or daughters have been caught breaking the law is contrary to good parenting. Parents must be aware, and I’m sure most of them are, in today’s society, their children’s attitudes of rebellion against authority along with thrill-seeking are not uncommon among kids who experiment with drugs, marijuana and alcohol. In my dealings with kids who use marijuana continually, I found that to be a symptom — expressing their conflict, a means of gaining social acceptance, or a way of escaping painful experiences of anxiety or depression.

Parents, with the establishment of this new law, must be aware of their children’s behavior. Chronic marijuana users often are lethargic, neglect their personal appearance and occasionally may experience a deep sense of failure after believing they are capable of accomplishing great things.

The Township of Montclair is an urban/suburban community with a college, “Montclair State University.” Statistics have shown that for young people in this type of setting, there is a good chance of students experimenting with marijuana at the high school level. It is the nature of kids to seek new and exciting experiences. Hopefully, if your child falls into this group, they may find smoking marijuana to be unpleasant and not worthwhile, thereby forgoing further use. Parents must remain diligent in this new society. Parents and police should have concerns.

Thomas J. Russo
Retired Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety


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