NJ gov to off-duty cops: No legal weed for you

Published on April 19, 2022
governor Murphy speaks from a podium with an outstretched hand
Enjoy the legal herb while you can, New Jersey law enforcement. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

Gov. Phil Murphy wants to close a loophole that would let cops use cannabis off the clock starting April 21

Last week, New Jersey’s acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin (D) made a big announcement: When recreational cannabis sales officially launch in New Jersey this Thursday (April 21), off-duty police officers will be able to consume legally, just like other adults. 

It didn’t take long, however, for lawmakers from both political parties to announce that they want to get rid of the policy, likely by modifying the state’s legalization laws.

Yesterday, April 18, Governor Phil Murphy (D) signaled his willingness to prevent cops from enjoying herb in their off-hours. “Would I be open minded to a legislative fix that would address this?” he told reporters. “The answer is yes.”

One New Jersey lawmaker argued that since cannabis metabolites can be detected by drug tests for up to two months after consumption, the policy will result in confusion over whether an officer remained intoxicated while on-duty. 

“With cannabis remaining in one’s system for 30 days; police will subject themselves to never ending lawsuits & questioning of their judgements,” state Senator Paul Sarlo (D) wrote on Twitter

“Let me be clear [that] the directive is a product of the law that was enacted. I am hopeful we can modify the law to match all the other states that have zero tolerance for use of off duty cannabis by police,” he added. (Most other legal states do explicitly ban off-duty cops from consuming marijuana.)

New Jersey is latest battleground for social equity in cannabis

Yet another politician suggested that allowing officers to consume off-duty implies a lack of support for law enforcement. “I back the blue 100%, and I want to make sure they are at their best ability to serve and protect,” Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer (R) told KYW radio

Police officers inevitably do smokemarijuanaalready. (And sometimes even make 911 calls after eating too many brownies.)

As for the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police, they have remained publicly neutral about the policy. “That’s the law now,” the organization stated, according to KYW.

New Jersey residents voted in favor of legalization in the 2020 election. The measure passed with two-thirds of the vote.

13 current medical dispensaries will begin selling adult-use marijuana on Thursday, April 21. Looking for a dispensary near you? Leafly has you covered!

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Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.
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