Debate erupts over whether off-duty officers should be able to use legal cannabis
The legalization of cannabis has sparked a debate over whether or not off-duty officers should be allowed to use it without getting in trouble.
Police officials are telling officers not to use legal cannabis even though there is a loophole that allows police in New Jersey to try recreational marijuana.
The state's Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin says departments, "May not take any adverse action against any officers because they do or do not use cannabis off-duty."
That contradicts federal law, which is why officers are being told by the state PBA and their bosses to refrain and not risk discipline.
Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy says, "Some officers raised some concerns, so to eliminate any confusion we just said they can't."
Mastronardy says before legalization, officers would be fired for a positive drug test. After legalization of marijuana that rule will stay the same, he says.
"In the short term, we are trying to protect our officers, number one and protect the citizens of our county," says Mastronardy.
Chiefs of police and municipal leaders fear impairment on the job with a weapon in hand and an officer's credibility could happen if they smoke marijuana.
The whole dilemma has now made its way to the State House. Eight Trenton legislators sent a letter asking the attorney general to explain, how a local law enforcement agency issuing a firearm or ammunition to a known user of marijuana can be legally justified without violating federal law?"
Several members of law enforcement tell News 12 the law needs changing immediately to remove confusion. That would require legislators to act fast. Officers say this is just one pitfall surrounding legal weed that should have been handled long ago.