TRENTON – Another New Jersey town has told its police officers and other employees they could lose their jobs if they use marijuana while off-duty, even though it is now legal and available for regulated sale in the state.

Woodland Park, a borough in Passaic County, told its workforce that its drug use policy hasn’t changed – whether for police on patrol, Department of Public Works employees operating heavy equipment, office staff meeting with residents or recreation staff working with kids.

“None of these responsibilities can be accomplished safely and effectively while being impaired,” said Mayor Keith Kazmark.

“While cannabis use is now legal – as was voted upon and approved by the voters in the 2020 general election – we as municipal employees and public servants must provide services to our residents and customers with a clear mind and optimal efficiency,” he said.

Police officers and DPW workers are subject to random drug testing. Other employees can be tested if they are suspected to be intoxicated on the job.

Drug tests can detect the presence of marijuana weeks after it was consumed and long after its effects are no longer felt. But municipal officials say they worry about liability in lawsuits and jeopardizing law enforcement investigation, particularly in the absence of tests that prove if a person is impaired.

Nearly two weeks ago, acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin said a memo to police departments that the state law didn’t exempt police officers from being able to use marijuana off duty now that it is legal. He said that’s the letter of the law, not a policy position.

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“In my capacity as New Jersey's chief law enforcement officer, public safety is my top priority,” Platkin said. “To be clear, I share the concerns being expressed by some elected officials, legislators, and others with regard to the off-duty use of legal cannabis by police officers."

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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