Law enforcement experts are calling a proposed new policy “crazy” that would prohibit the New York Police Department from drug testing new recruits for marijuana use or conducting random testing.
According to a memo obtained by Newsmax, the NYPD was no longer permitted to drug test for marijuana under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which legalized recreational marijuana in the Empire State last year.
The memo, issued Monday by the deputy commissioner for legal matters, Ernest Hart, summarized an opinion by the New York City Law Department and was titled "NYPD No Longer Permitted to Drug Test for Marijuana."
It was directed the department to “stop pre-employment, random, and scheduled drug testing for marijuana.”
The memo also stated that “starting immediately, the department should only drug test a member of service for marijuana if there is reasonable suspicion that the member is impaired by marijuana on the job.”
A spokesperson for the deputy commissioner of public information confirmed to Newsmax that the “New York City Law Department has directed the NYPD to cease all random, scheduled and pre-employment testing for marijuana.”
But the spokesperson said the department “will continue to administer marijuana screenings to personnel when there are indications of impairment and is reviewing its current policies in light of this directive.”
The memo noted that, “starting immediately,” the NYPD should only issue a drug test for marijuana if there is “reasonable suspicion” the person is impaired on the job and it is impacting their performance or where there is a federal requirement mandating testing.
However, after word of the memo became public, a subsequent statement from the NYPD Public Information office contradicted its earlier statement and said there was no change in policy.
“The NYPD has received a legal memorandum from the City’s Law Department regarding the implementation of the Marijuana and Taxation Act (MARTA) in New York State law," it said. "We are in consultation with the Law Department over conflicts with the new state law and pre-existing federal law.
"While these discussions continue, there is no change in NYPD policies, procedures, or testing protocols regarding the use of Marijuana by uniformed members of the service.”
Regardless, even the consideration was decried by former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik.
“This is crazy,” he said.
The rationale for ending the testing, according to the memo, stems from the determination that “there is no test for marijuana that conclusively determines current intoxication, making it impossible to determine by drug test alone whether an employee has tested positive for marijuana because of improper use on the job or use during statutorily protected off-hours use.”
But while advocates say there is no way to determine when the drug use is taking place, Kerik said that is “exactly why” the new policy shouldn’t go into effect and points out that cops also carry firearms.
“A cop is on duty 24 hours a day, not just eight hours,” he said.
Considering police officers aren’t allowed to carry their firearms if they are drinking or enter a bar where they could become intoxicated, he said they shouldn’t be permitted to smoke marijuana and carry a gun.
“If mental and physical faculties are diminished, you can’t be using a firearm,” he said.
Kerik said what scares him the most is that incoming applicants won’t be tested.
“New kids coming into the department could be smoking pot on a daily basis, but you aren’t going to be able to test them for that? That’s nuts,” he said.
He fears that if a cop carrying a firearm winds up under the influence of marijuana and something “goes wrong in any way” while they are on the job the NYPD will be held liable.
“It’s a really bad policy and precedent to basically say that cops are not going to be held accountable for smoking marijuana,” he said.
The new policy would be a drastic shift from a memo issued to cops last year after marijuana use was legalized in the Empire State.
In April 2021, the New York Post reported that uniformed and civilian members received a note from the commanding officer of the NYPD medical division reminding them that the “use of marijuana is still strictly prohibited.
“All existing patrol guide procedures regarding its prohibition as well as drug screening procedures remain in effect. Members are reminded that they must be fit for duty at all times. Members who are found unfit for duty or who fail a drug screening test are subject to suspension and/or termination at the discretion of the police commissioner.”
Kerik called any departure from that position “idiotic.”
Marisa Herman ✉
Marisa Herman, a Newsmax senior reporter, focuses on major and investigative stories. A University of Florida graduate, she has more than a decade of experience as a reporter for newspapers, magazines, and websites.
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