Let police use cannabis
Let police use cannabis

Let Cops Smoke Weed! - Possible Bill Would Exempt Police from State Protections Around Cannabis Use

There is a talk of a new bill in California that would not protect law enforcement from personal cannabis use!

Posted by:
Reginald Reefer on Wednesday Mar 27, 2024

Let Cops Smoke Weed!


Should cops be allowed to smoke weed? Some are staunchly against it, but this stoner here believes it would make the world a better place. Love them or hate them, cops have an incredibly stressful job. They regularly encounter dangerous situations, witness traumatic events, and deal with hostile people. It's no surprise that many officers suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and other mental health issues.


On top of that, the public's perception of police is largely negative these days. Incidents of police brutality and abuse of power have eroded trust in law enforcement. Of course, not all cops are bad apples, but the reputation has taken a major hit. This animosity and stigma undoubtedly add to the already overwhelming stress and pressures they face.


Nonetheless, this doesn't mean police officers should be excluded from cannabis use. In fact, regulated access to marijuana could potentially allow cops to finally connect with the public they are sworn to protect and serve. By legally partaking in the same vice that millions of law-abiding citizens enjoy, a human bridge could be built between the police force and the people.


Rather than being seen as an authority figure disconnected from the lives of ordinary citizens, a cop smoking a joint in their off-hours makes them significantly more relatable. It humanizes them. If regulated responsibly, cannabis use among law enforcement could paradoxically improve police-community relations and their mental wellbeing.


However, a new California bill threatens to move in the opposite direction. SB 1264 would prohibit various categories of public workers, including law enforcement officers, from lawful marijuana use that is currently protected under state employment laws. In this article, we're going to explore why this proposed amendment is a step backwards and a terrible idea that could have serious negative ramifications.


The Bill in a Nutshell


The California bill in question, SB 1264, was originally introduced last month as a minor technical fix to an existing law protecting workers from employment discrimination over legal marijuana use. However, it took a controversial turn this week when it was substantially amended in committee with an entirely new section that would roll back those protections for various categories of workers.


The new amendment, sponsored by Republican Senator Shannon Grove, specifically removes the employment protections for "employees in sworn or nonsworn positions within law enforcement agencies" who have job functions related to:

  1. Apprehension, incarceration, or correction of criminal offenders

  2. Civil enforcement matters

  3. Dispatch and public safety communications

  4. Evidence gathering and processing

  5. Law enforcement records

  6. Animal control

  7. Community services duties 8 ) Public administrator or public guardian duties

  8. Coroner functions

This proposed change comes just months after the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training removed questions about marijuana from police job application forms, stating that several forms were "modified to remove inquiries about a candidate's prior cannabis use."


The legislation currently sits before the Senate Rules Committee after Grove's amendments were adopted on Tuesday. If passed, it would represent a major setback for the employment protections that were established by two pieces of legislation signed into law in 2022 and 2023.


Those laws, which took effect on January 1st of this year, made it illegal for California employers to ask job applicants about past cannabis use or penalize most employees for lawful off-duty marijuana use. Certain exceptions were already included, such as workers in the building/construction trades and those requiring federal background checks, but this new amendment extends those exceptions even further.


Specifically, the 2022 law states it is "unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalizing a person, if the discrimination is based upon...off-duty marijuana use."


The separate 2023 law prohibits employers from "requesting information from an applicant for employment relating to the applicant's prior use of cannabis."


If SB 1264 passes with the new amendment, it would nullify those protections for a huge swath of law enforcement employees across the state. From police officers to animal control workers to coroners, an entire sector of public service workers could once again face discrimination and job consequences for their personal cannabis use outside of work hours.


The potential rollback of such recently-enacted worker protections has voter advocacy groups and cannabis supporters sounding the alarm about the proposed changes. With the bill now awaiting a Senate Rules Committee vote, all eyes are on whether California lawmakers will side with the police unions pushing for the amendment or the wave of pro-cannabis worker policies that have been advancing.


Why not the same treatment for alcohol?


If lawmakers are going to single out cannabis and prohibit its use among certain public employees like law enforcement officers, a glaring double standard arises: Why not enact the same draconian policies for alcohol?


By virtually every objective metric, alcohol is more dangerous and detrimental than cannabis. It's more toxic, more addictive, and causes significantly more health issues and societal harm. Alcohol dependency can lead to life-ruining consequences like job loss, domestic violence, and севере organ damage. The same simply cannot be said about cannabis dependence.


Perhaps most importantly in the context of police work, alcohol is clearly linked to increased violent and irrational behavior in a way that marijuana is not. Over 40% of all violent crimes involve the presence of alcohol, according to data from the Department of Justice. Excessive drinking has been identified as the most significant predictor of intimate partner violence.


On the other hand, cannabis does not appear to be a major factor in violent crimes. In fact, some studies have found that marijuana use is associated with decreased domestic violence. While certainly not an excuse, alcohol's disinhibiting effects resulting in aggressive behavior are well-documented. This makes the potential exception for law enforcement particularly concerning from a public safety standpoint.


Interestingly, there are no blanket policies prohibiting police officers and law enforcement from using alcohol off-duty, despite it being an objectively more impairing and destructive substance. An officer can get blindingly drunk on their day off, showing up to work hungover and potentially exhibiting residual impairment, and face no disciplinary action in most jurisdictions as long as they are no longer intoxicated on the clock.


Yet if that same officer consumed cannabis responsibly in their personal time, they could potentially be reprimanded or even fired solely due to outdated cannabis stigma rather than any evidence of real impairment or safety risks. This is fundamentally hypocritical.


The key difference is that the mere presence of THC metabolites can be detected through standard drug testing, weeks or even months after impairment from consumption. However, this alone does not indicate intoxication or impairment - it simply shows evidence of prior cannabis use, just as alcohol metabolites would indicate past alcohol consumption.


By specifically targeting cannabis in this way, the implicit argument seems to be that marijuana is so profoundly mind-altering and perception-warping that any prior use, regardless of timeframe, fundamentally compromises an individual's ability to perform their duties. This is an argument not supported by science or data.


Perhaps this antiquated "reefer madness" mentality persisting in some lawmakers is the real concern driving these efforts. By treating cannabis as a unique demon to be stamped out at all costs, even among responsible adults, they reveal a dogmatic belief that marijuana is inherently immoral and eroding to society. This puritanical viewpoint fails to align with current realities around the plant's mainstream acceptance and legalization in much of the country.


The Cops should smoke weed!


Police officers deal with immense stress and traumatic situations on a regular basis as part of their job duties. The consequences of this unrelenting pressure often manifest as PTSD, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues among law enforcement. Cannabis provides a non-toxic avenue to help manage these conditions without the dangerous side effects of alcohol or pharmaceuticals.


A 2022 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that cannabis consumption is associated with increased empathy levels and ability to share the emotional experience of others. For police officers, who can sometimes lose sight of the humanity in the communities they patrol, this empathy-promoting effect could be invaluable.


With more empathy, cops may be less inclined to strictly enforce draconian laws that criminalize victimless crimes like personal marijuana cultivation or possession. They could start focusing more resources on actual violent crime that damages society. A force occupied with busting down doors over roaches is one that lets murderers and rapists run free.


A more relaxed, empathetic police force could foster greater trust and cooperation with the public they serve. When the people view law enforcement with less fear and animosity, it becomes harder for real criminals to hide and operate within those communities. Aligning police and citizens makes it a tough day for crime.


At its core, cannabis is a plant that millions worldwide use to unwind, relax, and bring joy and peace into their lives. To declare that certain categories of public servants don't have the same fundamental human right to make this choice is to assert a repugnant authoritarian notion - that there are two classes of people: those subjected to the law, and those upholding it.


For officers risking their lives daily, being denied a plant-based reprieve from their immense stress and trauma is not just contradictory policy, it's institutionalized discrimination cloaked in outdated reefer madness. If we truly want equality in this country, we need to start by treating everyone equally, regardless of their profession or civilian status.


The same laws, freedoms, and human rights need to apply universally.





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