Police can use cannabis after work
Police can use cannabis after work

Should the Police Be Able to Smoke Weed after Work? - How New Jersey Started a National Conversation

Can cops in legal states use cannabis after work and on non-working days?

Posted by:
BehindTheWaves on Monday May 9, 2022

Police smoke weed after work?

The Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, in November 2020 signed into constitution the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act. This Act  makes legal the sale of recreational cannabis for citizens above the age of 21 in New Jersey, and this will kick off in a few locations this April.


With these legal sales kicking off next week, Matt Plakin, the present acting Attorney General has issued a memo to that effect. The memo reminded law enforcement agents and leaders that laws permit cops to use cannabis when off duty. The memo clearly stated that cops could legally purchase and consume cannabis while off duty. However, on-duty possession and use may cause termination from the force or other disciplinary actions necessary.


In the memo, Platkin made it clear that the law has zero-tolerance for possession, intoxication, or use of cannabis by cops when on duty. The memo, which was delivered to the chief executives of every law enforcement also stated that unregulated use of cannabis by officers will not be tolerated.


The memo made it clear that unregulated use by enforcement officers both off and on duty is prohibited. The restriction of to ensure the safety of both our officers and every community. It is important to note that the memo does not imply a change in the Act or policy. It only informs the law enforcement agencies of the provisions present in the Act, which Gov. Phil Murphy enacted into law.


The Act enables the legal marijuana market in New Jersey to bar any employer within the state who refuses to hire or issues disciplinary actions because an employee uses cannabis. However, the Act allows employers to bar alcohol and drug use within their business space. Workers can also be fired or sanctioned for being high during work hours


This memo was delivered two days after the Cannabis Regulatory Commission decided to permit 13 medical marijuana dispensaries to kick off recreational sales of cannabis. Although, the dispensaries are shell required to apply for and very their retail licenses. According to an announcement from Murphy's office, the cannabis commission started issuing licenses on the 21st of April, 2022.


The Pushback

The memo issued by Platkin has met several pushbacks from lawmakers and enforcement senators. On Thursday, Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer commented that she is worried the law could lead to officers being impaired during duties.


According to Beth, anyone working and serving in public safety must answer to higher standards. She affirmed that women and men in law enforcement are constantly faced with the daily obligation to make life-altering decisions. To ensure they are doing so, there should be zero luxury of impairment in decision-making.


Other lawmakers who voiced their concern believe that off-duty officers getting high is difficult to track as cannabis stays in the system for a long time. Therefore it will be difficult to tell if an officer is u der the influence or not.


According to Senator Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, a Mayor and Pro Law Enforcement Senator, he's not in support of police officers consuming cannabis when off duty. He believes with cannabis staying in the body system for at least 30 days,, and copswill only subject themselves to unending questioning of their judgments and lawsuits.


Considering the pushback, Gov. Phil Murphy, in trying to cool off the situation has hedged on Platkin's memo. Murphy explained that he is "open-minded" to discussing placing a ban on police off-duty cannabis use. Murphy affirmed that if reasons were genuine enough to ban marijuana use for law enforcement officers he would definitely consider it.


As the drama unfolds, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop have also taken a strong stance against cannabis use by police. They announced that any officer caught using during off-duty in their respective County cities will be fired.


A Dividing Line

A dividing line seems to be forming in the law enforcement community as officers take sides over the use of cannabis. The President of New Jersey's biggest police union, Pat Colligan has thrown its support for Platkins in allowing officers to use cannabis.


According to Pat, for Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop to admit they won't be following the law is quite interesting. Pat believes officers shouldn't pick and choose the law they want or don't want to follow. That's not the way any officer especially a Mayor should work he explained. 


Pat went on to say he had discussed with the Jersey City police union president, Joe Cossolini, that it comes any officer is grief fired, the union will go to court. However, Pat has asked every office to hold on until proper clarity and interpretation of the law are established. This is to ensure no officer is caught wanting when the new drug tests come in and a fresh policy is established.


Pat also confessed that before the pandemic struck, he had already been working to ensure the state allows officers to use cannabis for medical purposes. He claimed there are plenty of officers with long-term disabilities and those that are terminally ill that could use the healing benefits of cannabis. However, the pandemic put further discussions and meetings on hold.


Pat reiterated that when laws are enacted, an officer must follow such laws. It is difficult to ignore what more than 65% of New Jersey citizens want. He believes the general stance is more in support of the initiative than against it but no position has been taken just yet.



Looking at the bigger picture, other states have different approaches as regards legislation and the use of cannabis. For instance, Colorado gives its agencies the authority to make their own rules. This is also the case for Arizona as most agencies have placed a ban on officers using cannabis over federal law concerns.


Cannabis at the federal level is still illegal (including for medical use). As it stands a federal law that bars individuals from using drugs that are illegal from owning firearms absolved firearms granted by any government agency.


At the end of it all, New Jersey will eventually find a policy that addresses all concerns like other states have done.





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