The Garden State is finally going to start selling adult-use weed this week, and state cops will be able to get just as blazed as everyone else.
Last week, acting state Attorney General Matthew Platkin sent a memo to all state and local police chiefs explaining that the workplace discrimination protections contained in the state's adult-use law also apply to cops. The memo reminds police departments that they "may not take any adverse action against any officers because they do or do not use cannabis off duty," the Asbury Park Press reports.
Of course, getting high on the job will remain strictly prohibited. Cops are not permitted to possess or use weed at work, or to show up to work stoned. "To be clear, there should be zero tolerance for cannabis use, possession or intoxication while performing the duties of a law enforcement officer," Platkin said in the memo. "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 memo also explains that departments cannot fire officers solely for testing positive for weed on a random drug test. However, cops can be forced to take a drug test if they are caught getting high at work, or if a supervisor suspects that they are stoned on the job. And if that test turns up positive, departments are then allowed to take punitive action. Unfortunately, standard urine tests cannot effectively identify whether a person is stoned at the time of the test, or if they got high weeks ago. In other words, there’s an increased likelihood of that cop getting reprimanded or fired for cannabis consumption, especially if they regularly use cannabis.
Federal firearms laws could also cause problems for weed-loving Jersey cops. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) explicitly prohibits firearms licenses from being issued to cannabis users, even registered medical marijuana patients. This law does include an exception for firearms issued by any state department or agency, however, which makes it unclear whether or not the feds would actually take away a cannabis-using officer's gun license.
Most other states use the ATF regulations as an excuse to prohibit cops from getting high, though. Just across the Hudson River, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has already warned its officers that they are not allowed to use cannabis, either on or off the job. “With regard to recently passed state legislation that legalized the recreational use of marijuana, uniformed and civilian members of the service are reminded that the use of marijuana is still strictly prohibited,” officials said in a memo reported by the NY Post.
After years of delays, New Jersey's first adult-use shops will open for business this Thursday – the day after 4/20. The Garden State initially legalized weed last February, but regulatory delays have pushed back the rollout of legal sales by a few extra months. At long last, the state has authorized 7 medical marijuana businesses to start selling adult-use weed via 13 dispensaries all around the state. As the year rolls on, regulators will begin issuing licenses for additional adult-use companies.
“This is an exciting time for New Jersey,” said New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission executive director Jeff Brown in a statement. “New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly to have access to adult-use cannabis and it is now here.”