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New Jersey AG Says Cops Can Legally Smoke Weed

This memo informs New Jersey police agencies about the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey. It also advises them that law passed last year to allow adults to buy and use cannabis.

In his memo, Platkin wrote that law enforcement agencies in the state “may not take any adverse action against any officers because they do or do not use cannabis off duty.” The acting attorney general added that the right of police officers to use pot is consistent with the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act passed by state lawmakers last year. He noted also that officers cannot use marijuana while they are on duty or get under the influence while at work.

“To be clear, there should be zero tolerance for cannabis use, possession or intoxication while performing the duties of a law enforcement officer,” Platkin wrote in the memo obtained by the Asbury Park Press. “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.”

Brian Vicente, founding partner of cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, said that Platkin’s memo is consistent with the legal standard of equal protection for all.

“Law enforcement officials should enjoy the same rights and legal protections as other New Jersey adults,” Sederberg wrote in an email to Chronic News. “Those who choose to consume cannabis responsibly while off duty should be treated the same as those who choose to consume alcohol while off duty.”

New Jersey’s cannabis legalization law includes provisions that allow employers to maintain a drug-free workplace for their employees. Employers will need to be aware of the procedures that are required if a worker is accused of smoking cannabis at work, or under the influence in the workplace. Platkin reminded police officers that they have the same rights under the statute as other law enforcement agencies.

“Should there be reasonable suspicion of an officer’s use of cannabis while engaged in the performance of their duties, or upon finding any observable signs of intoxication related to cannabis use (including following a work-related accident subject to investigation by the agency), that officer may be required to undergo a drug test,” he wrote.

The drug test must include a physical exam to verify intoxication. THC can be detected for up to weeks following the consumption of cannabis. A positive drug test does not indicate impairment.

Critics fear that cops will be high while on patrol

Critics have already voiced their opposition to the notion of police officers using marijuana on the job. Beth Sawyer, State Assemblywoman, expressed concern that police officers will be working under the influence of cannabis.

“Anyone who wants to work in public safety must be held to higher standards,” Sawyer told the New Jersey Monitor. “Our men and women in law enforcement have the responsibility to make life-altering decisions on a daily basis, for themselves, their partners, for the public. I want to trust that they are at their best when doing so.”

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act was signed by Governor Phil Murphy in February 2021. While the law allows adult possession up to six ounces, sales of legal recreational marijuana have been delayed several times while regulations are created.

Murphy made the announcement on Thursday via social media, that recreational cannabis sales will start at certain medical marijuana dispensaries in the next week. Murphy did this just one day following the 4/20 weed holiday.

“This is a historic step in our work to create a new cannabis industry,” Murphy wroteFollow us on Twitter.

After the plans of retailers were shared with the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, the commission said that it will post a list listing the dispensaries in New Jersey where adult-use marijuana can be purchased.

“This is an exciting time for New Jersey,” said executive director Jeff Brown. “We have been intentional and deliberate to do everything in our power to set the market on good footing to start.”