New Jersey police officers will not face disciplinary action for smoking pot while off duty when recreational marijuana use becomes legal in six days, on April 21, the New York Post reported Friday.
"[Police departments] may not take any adverse action against any officers because they do or do not use cannabis off duty," an April 13 memo to police chiefs in the state from acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin said.
According to the Post, officers older than 21 years of age will be allowed to smoke pot legally once the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMMA), signed into law last year by Gov. Phil Murphy, takes effect on April 21.
The law comes from a November voter referendum that approved the legal use of marijuana in the state.
The law also prohibits action against officers for pot remnants showing up in urine or other "bodily fluid" tests, according to the memo.
"An employee shall not be subject to any adverse action by an employer solely due to the presence of cannabinoid metabolites in the employee's bodily fluid,"the memo said.
NJ.com reported that while the memo said that off-duty officers were allowed to smoke, use during their time on the job remains prohibited.
"But to be clear, there should be zero tolerance for cannabis use, possession, or intoxication while performing the duties of a law enforcement officer," Platkin's memo said. "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. Law enforcement agencies shall continue to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace, which prohibition includes marijuana/cannabis whether regulated or illicit."
The New York City Police Department, however, does not allow its officers to take advantage of a similar law there allowing the recreational use of marijuana.
"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,"the Post reported a memo sent out in 2021 after then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation into law legalizing marijuana said.
"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."
New Jersey GOP Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer criticized Platkin's memo in a statement Thursday.
"Anyone who wants to work in public safety must be held to higher standards," Sawyer said. "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 attorney general's directive on CREAMMA leaves much to be desired."
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