Off-duty cops will be allowed to consume cannabis in New Jersey, but Mayor Steven Fulop plans to fire any police officer in his city who tests positive for marijuana.
“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,” Fulop explained. “Every other state in the country that legalized cannabis had a carve-out that did not allow off-duty police officers to smoke.”
New Jersey’s cannabis legalization law means that employers cannot punish their employees for using recreational pot as long as they remain sober while at work. This is according to a memo the state’s attorney general sent last week to law enforcement executives.
“If it’s litigated, it’s litigated,” Fulop said.
“It sounds like Mayor Fulop’s got some unique circumstances in Jersey City, in terms of the way firearms are purchased and potential federal challenges,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
Mayor Fulop has said that the state’s law clashes with federal laws, and as a result, all cops in the Garden State are required to sign something promising not to use marijuana. He believes that this presents a unique challenge for Jersey City and its circumstances aren’t unique.
“Allowing police officers to conflict with that would open the city up for litigation,” Fulop said.
Governor Murphy said he’s open to legislation that would give local law enforcement departments the ability to set their own policy.
One state senator has already made a promise to introduce a bill that bans off-duty cops from getting high. However, the Senate president – the lead sponsor for legalization – said that this proposed change would be “a slippery slope.”
“Newark followed us, Weehawken followed us, Bayonne followed us,” Fulop said.
The New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, which is an organization that represents police officers in all of the aforementioned departments besides Jersey City’s. The association explained to FOX 5 NY that it plans to defer to the state’s chief law enforcement officer.
During a statement to FOX 5 NY, the Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin explained his concerns regarding how marijuana legalization has the potential to affect police officers’ roles in society.
“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 explained. “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.”
Police officers are routinely subjected to blood work after getting in an accident or firing their guns. Fulop argues that the inability to measure how high someone is in the actual moment means there’s no clarity. Thus, this would compromise public trust should a cop test positive for marijuana.
“You can’t tell if somebody smoked on the job, an hour before they started the job, eight hours before or a week before,” Fulop said.