New Jersey’s new marijuana legalization enforcement “clean up” law threatens to turn police officers into criminals.

The law establishes an enforcement power, but makes it illegal for law enforcement to use that power. It creates civil penalties for underage drinking or marijuana use, but also penalizes any officer found to have stopped, searched or detained those suspected of using these substances without meeting probable cause standards. The officer could face a charge of deprivation of civil rights — a third degree offense subject to 3-5 years in prison, a fine of $15,000 or both.

According to a New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association analysis, this means any officer who sees or smells marijuana or alcohol cannot even inquire about the age of the user to ensure the user can legally possess these substances. The law permanently ties an officer’s hands. Talk about bad intentions.

The PBA statement continues: “Underage users of marijuana will now be free to smoke it anywhere, including in places the (law) says is illegal, because merely stopping a person to enforce the law is now illegal for police. Drug dealers will quickly learn to hide their drugs, guns and evidence of crimes on anyone under 18 years of age since merely lighting a joint as the officer approaches will put the officer in jeopardy of making an illegal search and being charged criminally.”

This legislation, for all intents and purposes, has now legalized recreational marijuana for kids.

Steve Cupani, Elmer

Note: The writer, now retired, was a sergeant with the Atlantic City Police Department.

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Restore what Trump’s tax cut took from middle class

In December 2017, the Republican-led U.S. Senate passed a sweeping tax reform/tax cut bill, that, after being signed into law by President Donald Trump, benefitted mostly the wealthy and large corporations.

An analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that by 2025 (with some of the law’s middle-class cuts set to expire), the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers will receive an average tax cut of $252,300. For the middle 20 percent of the American earners, the average tax cut will be approximately $910.

This law ignores the stagnation of working-class wages and exacerbates inequality. It also encourages rampant tax avoidance and gaming. The Republicans had no problem passing it in 2017, since many of them, including the Trump family, benefit from it.

Currently, President Joe Biden and Congress, with both houses now led by Democrats, are attempting to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill designed to benefit older Americans, small businesses, cities, schools districts and working-class Americans. It would also include funding for more vaccination sites. But the Republican minority in both house claims that is too much money to spend on their constituents.

There are more middle-class and low-income people than wealthy ones. In the time since Trump lost the 2020 election, state lawmakers, mainly in Republican-controlled legislatures, introduced over 100 measures to make it harder to vote. The bills’ sponsors feel that if they can prevent people from voting, the GOP can regain control of the U.S. House and Senate next year, and the White House in 2024.

We should all remember, as we prepare for the 2022 midterm elections, how little Republican legislators on the national and state levels care about us.

Vote for those who are going to help us and tell the truth, not those who hurt us and lie to us.

Richard Nash, Williamstown

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