Seaside Heights pushes back against new marijuana laws
The Seaside Heights Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday night calling for the repeal of Senate Bill 3454 and pushing back against the new marijuana laws signed last month by Gov. Phil Murphy.
The new laws legalized the use of the drug for adults. Underage users will receive a warning if caught, without authorities telling their parents on the first offense.
The council passed the mostly symbolic resolution in a unanimous decision, highlighting the problem areas the marijuana law creates for law enforcement. Borough leaders say if it's not repealed, it will have particularly negative impacts on all Jersey Shore communities.
The resolution says Senate Bill 3454 added the language of how police officers handle minors using marijuana, and subsequently alcohol, in the last hour, and did not represent what the voters chose as they overwhelmingly supported the legalization of marijuana.
New laws say police cannot use odor of marijuana or alcohol to stop a minor suspected of possession.
Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz says while the town is supporting legal marijuana, it leaves their police with no way to enforce the law without facing criminal prosecution, as the law currently stands.
“They need to really have a game plan moving forward how, they're going to address this issue and they need to be able to address, otherwise the boardwalk and beaches might look and smell a lot different this summer," says Vaz.
Supporters of the law say the police enforcement rules are intended to remove racial disparities in arrests among young people. Senate Republicans are working to draft a new law for what they say is a much-needed immediate fix.
Seaside Heights is the first town at the Jersey Shore to pass a resolution calling for the repeal.