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Anyone 21 and older can now legally get high on recreational marijuana in New Jersey, including off-duty police officers, but some cities are extremely concerned and are putting their foot down vowing to fire officers who test positive for the drug.
Eighteen states and the District of Colombia have decriminalized recreational marijuana since 2012. But unlike other states, when New Jersey passed its pot-friendly legislation last year, it did not include a prohibition carve-out for police officers.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is promising that officers under his purview will continue to be tested for marijuana usage and those who test positive will be fired. He’s not alone… other mayors and officials are also taking a hard line on it.
“If somebody wants to test us as a city and an administration, they’re more than welcome, but they certainly know where we stand and they can expect long litigation over it,” the mayor warned. “Every other state in the country that legalized cannabis had a carve-out that did not allow off-duty police officers to smoke.”
(Video Credit: Fox 5 New York)
Fulop expressed concern over the validity of testing cops for pot usage, asserting that it will be hard to determine whether an officer used the drug while on or off duty.
“You can’t tell if somebody smoked on the job, an hour before they started the job, eight hours before or a week before,” the mayor claimed.
“If it’s litigated, it’s litigated,” Fulop said.
The mayor contends that Jersey City’s circumstances aren’t unique and the state’s law conflicts with federal laws requiring every officer in New Jersey to sign an agreement when they receive their firearm promising not to use any federally prohibited drug including marijuana.
“Allowing police officers to conflict with that would open the city up for litigation,” Fulop pointed out, according to Fox 5 New York.
New Jersey police can now purchase and smoke marijuana just like anyone else — but only when they're off-duty. pic.twitter.com/9wN61vmVWs
— SAY CHEESE! 👄🧀 (@SaycheeseDGTL) April 18, 2022
“Newark followed us, Weehawken followed us, Bayonne followed us,” Fulop stated, listing off cities in New Jersey that also don’t want their officers using pot while off-duty.
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis has directed his city “to put together a ban” to prohibit police officers from using the drug as well, according to NorthJersey.
“As a retired police officer myself, I know that sworn law enforcement officers must be held to a higher standard and I believe that allowing marijuana use by off-duty personnel would lead to lawsuits that would endanger both taxpayers and public safety by making it harder to win criminal convictions,” Davis declared.
Davis is in agreement with Fulop that it would be impossible to say if an officer got high while on the job or not.
New Jersey Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin admonished that the new law has the potential to raise some legal challenges in the future.
“New Jersey’s law legalizing and regulating cannabis is clear and we are obligated to comply. I welcome conversations on how best to protect public safety,” Platkin noted in a memo. “Any efforts by local governments to subject officers to additional requirements in the interim, however, may present employment law issues that we anticipate will be handled between those governments and officers in the appropriate course.”
“To be clear, there should be zero tolerance for cannabis use, possession, or intoxication while performing the duties of a law enforcement officer,” he went on to state. “And there should be zero tolerance for unregulated marijuana consumption by officers at any time, on or off duty, while employed in this state. The safety of our communities and our officers demands no less.”
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