Jersey City mayor: Cops who use marijuana, even off duty, will be fired
Updated: Apr. 20, 2022, 4:54 p.m. | Published: Apr. 20, 2022, 11:57 a.m.
Jersey City police officers will be fired if they use marijuana, even while off duty, Mayor Steve Fulop said Wednesday morning.
On Friday, the state’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin in a memo
said police officers who are off-duty in New Jersey are allowed to consume cannabis and should not face disciplinary action.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, Fulop made his declaration disagreeing with the state’s position on April 20, or 4/20, the unofficial national day to celebrate all things marijuana. The mayor said a directive will be issued Wednesday to the city’s nearly 1,000 police officers that marijuana use “will not be permitted” as the city “will pursue termination.”
“The fact is that all of the officers/recruits attest to the federal government via (Department of Justice) + (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) paperwork when they receive their firearms that they will not use any federal prohibited drugs including marijuana,” Fulop said in a tweet. “New Jersey’s policies allowing law enforcement to smoke is an outlier nationally and one that will put our officers + community at risk with impaired judgment.”
Later Wednesday Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis joined Fulop’s stance against police officers’ use of marijuana, saying “As a retired police officer myself, I know that sworn law enforcement officers must be held to a higher standard and I believe that allowing marijuana use by off-duty personnel would lead to lawsuits that would endanger both taxpayers and public safety by making it harder to win criminal convictions.
Fulop in his tweets said alcohol usage can be tracked through tests and “timelines that can create clear protection between consumption + duty.”
“It would be irresponsible to allow officers to work with w/impaired judgment,” Fulop said. “It will only take one blood test after a car crash or discharged weapon where an officer tests positive for trust to erode.”
Sales for recreational weed begin Thursday for the first time since voters approved allowing the regulated sale of cannabis products to people 21 and older in November 2020.
Jersey City police union President Joe Cossolini said the mayor’s position on off-duty usage is “a disturbing and problematic message to send the public and constituents, many of whom are police officers.”
”I believe the entire state of New Jersey should pay close attention to this blatant disregard for the legislative process and the rule of law,” Cossolini said Wednesday. “This law was enacted 14 months ago; yet, Mayor Fulop has now decided that he does not want to follow the law of this state but wants Jersey City to make up its own.
”Supposedly, police officers are held to a higher standard, but Mayor Fulop does not think they are capable of making responsible decisions during their own recreation time.”
Gov. Phil Murphy
said he is “open-minded” to barring New Jersey police officers from getting high while they’re off duty.
“There’s no allowing anybody to show up impaired, whether you’re drinking or whether you’ve smoked weed,” Murphy said. “Anybody who shows up impaired would be dealt with aggressively.
“Would I be open-minded to a legislative fix that would address this? The answer is yes.”
Fulop has long supported the legalization of marijuana in the state. During his tenure, Jersey City became the first city in the state to decriminalize marijuana before it was legalized.
But Fulop said the trust between the community and “the police is fragile.”
Davis echoed Fulop’s point that current testing cannot determine when someone was under the influence of marijuana, “making it impossible for police officers to prove that their use occurred when off duty.”
“This is an unnecessary complication to an already difficult job and I would support a legislative solution to close this loophole and make it 100% clear that as long as marijuana remains classified by the federal government as an illegal drug, we cannot have police officers using it.”
For the record; 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,” Fulop said Wednesday.