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Posted on: April 22, 2022

Cannabis Use by Off-Duty Law Enforcement

Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin sent a memo to law enforcement chief executives regarding compliance with P.L. 2021, c. 16, the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act. In the memo, Acting Attorney General Platkin highlighted that New Jersey’s cannabis law prohibits law enforcement agencies from taking adverse actions against any officers because they do or do not use cannabis off-duty. He further clarified that this, however, “in no way insulates employees from adverse consequences from their employers for the possession or consumption of unregulated marijuana.”
  
 If there is reasonable suspicion of cannabis use during the performance of their duties or signs of intoxication related to cannabis use following a work-related accident, the officer may be required to undergo a drug test. The law requires that the drug test must include scientifically reliable objective testing methods and procedures, such as testing of blood, urine, or saliva, and a physical evaluation in order to determine the officer’s state of impairment. (N.J.S.A. 24:6I-52(a)(1) –(a)(2)(b)).
  
 In addition, the law permits the random drug test as part of pre-employment screening or regular screening of employees “to determine use during an employee’s prescribed work hours[,]”. The results of a drug test may be used to determine the appropriate employment action concerning the officer, including, but not limited to dismissal, suspension, demotion, or other disciplinary action. A revised Law Enforcement Drug Testing Policy reflects the new law.
  
 In light of this memo, Senator Sarlo and Assemblyman Greenwald have announced that they will introduce legislation to amend the law so police are not permitted to use cannabis off-duty. Assembly Speaker Coughlin noted legislation would be introduced in the Assembly regarding the use of cannabis for off-duty law enforcement. Governor Murphy indicated he is “open to such a change” but Senate President Scutari has expressed his opposition to barring off-duty law enforcement officers from using recreational cannabis.
  
Contact: Lori Buckelew, Deputy Executive Director & Director of Government Affairs, lbuckelew@njlm.org, 609-695-3481, x112.

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