Jersey City cops barred from legal marijuana off-duty, despite NJ memo
JERSEY CITY – Jersey City police officers remain prohibited from using marijuana even while off-duty, according to a directive issued Wednesday that runs counter to guidance published last week by the state attorney general.
The directive from Jersey City public safety director James Shea says that even though state law doesn’t say off-duty officers cannot legally buy and use marijuana for recreational purposes, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives prohibits gun buyers from using it.
Applicants and current Jersey City Police Department officers are required to purchase their on-duty service weapons and any off-duty weapon personally, meaning they would be unable to perform their job duties if they consumed marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes.
“There will be no ambiguity on how JCPD will approach this + we will pursue legally if tested via the federal court system,” Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said on Twitter. “Bottom line is trust is fragile between communities/police + we should make sure that there isn’t compromised judgment + NJ is an outlier nationally on not having a carve-out for law enforcement.”
Legal sales of adult-use marijuana begin at 13 state-regulated dispensaries Thursday.
Last Thursday, acting Attorney General Matt Platkin said in a memo to police chiefs that departments “may not take any adverse action against any officers because they do or do not use cannabis off duty” under state law.
Earlier Wednesday, Fulop had announced on Twitter that the directive would be coming and said any officers who smoke marijuana, even off duty, would be fired.
“NJ’s policies allowing law enforcement to smoke is an outlier nationally and one that will put our officers + community at risk with impaired judgment,” he said. “Unlike alcohol where there are tests + timelines that can create clear protection between consumption + duty, w/marijuana that doesn’t exist. It would be irresponsible to allow officers to work w/impaired judgment + it will only take one blood test after a car crash or discharged weapon where an officer tests positive for trust to erode.”
Fulop said the state’s policy regarding off-duty police is “clearly a mistake” and predicted it will eventually be changed for law enforcement and other professions. He called it “a ridiculous part of the law.”
“I have been a staunch supporter of legalization and we have made Jersey City the most flexible with regards to legalization for our community but responsible protections for our officer and community is important,” he said. “The trust between police/community is fragile.”