Police Officers Can Use Weed, NJ Commission Rules
Jersey City Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Steve Fulop is vowing to appeal yet another loss in his bid to fire police officers who use marijuana on their personal time.
On Tuesday, the state Civil Service Commission ruled Jersey City cannot terminate a police officer for the use of cannabis products on personal time.
This all stems from a zero-tolerance policy Fulop implemented as recreational weed use became law in New Jersey in April of 2022.
It was in defiance of the policy set by state Attorney General Matt Platkin. In 2022, Platkin reminded all municipalities that police officers could not be punished for cannabis use when off-duty.
The Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMM) also states no "adverse action" may be taken "against any officers because they do or do not use cannabis off duty."
Fulop, however, maintains the New Jersey regulation is flawed and in defiance of federal law that lists marijuana as an illegal, controlled substance.
A spokesman for Fulop told NJ.com the conflict with federal law is the "elephant in the room" and accused the Civil Service Commission of refusing to deal with the issue.
Fired police officers ordered to be reinstated
Despite the warnings from AG Platkin, Fulop supported the firing of four Jersey City Police officers after they tested positive for cannabis. None were accused of being under the influence while on duty.
A judge has ordered at least two of those officers be reinstated with back pay.
It is not clear if they have returned to the force.
Controversial from the start
Even before legal sales of recreational cannabis products began in New Jersey, there was controversy about its use by law enforcement.
When AG Platkin issued his memo, there were calls from several state lawmakers to amend state statutes to prohibit cannabis use by police.
Gov. Phil Murphy said he was open to the idea of a police ban on weed use.
Democratic state Sen. Paul Sarlo said he would introduce such a bill.
However, Senate President Nick Scutari, D-Union, immediately shot down the idea. Scutari was the prime sponsor of the bill to legalize recreational marijuana use.
"You open up this box where you start regulating people’s behavior when they’re on their own time — I think that’s a very dangerous, slippery slope, that I’m not willing to go down," Scutari said at the time.