RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA RULES SHOULD INCLUDE CAVEAT THAT PROHIBITS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS FROM USING THE DRUG

Thu Apr 21 2022 16:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

JUST HOURS before legalized recreational marijuana became available across the state, Ocean County officials released a strongly worded statement opposing the drug's use among law enforcement officers.

Noting that federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners John P. Kelly and Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy asked Governor Phil Murphy to ban the use of recreational cannabis by police and other law enforcement officers.

"The sheriff feels very strongly about this and asked me to address it at today's public meeting," Kelly said at the start of the April 20 Commissioners meeting. "I agree that the governor needs to immediately address this issue."

Legal recreational marijuana sales for adults 21 years of age and older went into effect in New Jersey on April 21.

On April 13 the state Attorney General's Office issues a directive allowing off-duty law enforcement officers to use marijuana.

That ruling needs a strong second look, Kelly said.

"The directive further emphasized that being under the influence of legal cannabis or any other intoxicating substance while on duty was a violation and should be addressed in severe terms," Kelly said. "Marijuana when consumed stays in your system for 30 days and there are no field tests to determine the level of marijuana intoxication."

Additionally, because marijuana is still classified as illegal under federal law, any agency that allows its officers to use the drug could be ineligible to receive certain federal grants.

"The Ocean County Sheriff will continue to follow federal law," Kelly said.

The county's position is supported by several law enforcement organizations.
"The Sheriff's Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ocean County Police Chiefs Association are among many organizations who have lobbied the Governor to continue to prohibit law enforcement officers from using cannabis at any time," Kelly said.

Both Mastronardy and the Board of Commissioners called on the governor and the state Legislature to, "put the safety of our citizens and law enforcement community first and address the issue of recreational cannabis use by law enforcement officers."

According to press reports, Murphy has said that he is open to the idea of prohibiting off-duty law enforcement officers from using marijuana.