State Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford) and Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Babylon) announced proposed legislation Thursday that would expand the social host law to include drugs from marijuana to opioids.
The current social host law says it is illegal for parents or guardians to allow underage alcohol use in their homes and they face criminal penalties, if convicted. The new legislation would shift more liability on to parents and guardians who knowingly allow minors to consume controlled substances in their homes.
Legislators in both Nassau and Suffolk counties unanimously approved similar changes to their laws last month.
Brooks highlighted the need for passage of statewide legislation to “close a gaping hole” in the current law, just as prom and graduation season approaches.
“As the prom parties begin and the sights are on the big future — the next stage of their lives — tragedy does happen,” Brooks said during an event at a youth center in Amityville. “Today, we try to preempt those tragedies with a clear message to parents — the social host law is in full effect and enforced by our tremendous police force for the safety for all of our residents here in New York.”
Jean-Pierre said, “It’s incumbent to hold adults responsible” to make sure minors are protected.
“Long Island as well as the rest of this country is in the middle of a drug epidemic. This is a community issue that we must combat,” she said.
Jamie Bogenshutz, executive director of the YES Community Counseling Center in Massapequa, said parents tend to be more casual about marijuana use.
“There are some parents who think, ‘Well, it’s only a joint’ — but it’s never just marijuana,” Bogenshutz said.
The social host laws in Nassau and Suffolk carry fines between $500 and $1,000, and violators could receive jail time, if convicted.