Recreational use of cannabis by police officers is turning into a major bone of contention in New Jersey’s cannabis regulatory scheme. On October 16th, Jersey City filed a suit seeking a declaration that New Jersey’s cannabis regulatory statute is preempted in cases of adverse employment action for cannabis users who are required to use a firearm on the job. The suit conflicts with an April 2022 memo by Attorney General Matt Platkin, saying that the state’s Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act prevents law enforcement agencies from taking adverse action against police officers for use of cannabis while off duty.
Ryan Magee, partner of McCarter & English, states that New Jersey is among a very few states, if not the only state, to have legal cannabis that doesn’t bar certain specific professions, such as police officers, from using cannabis. “[T]here is some irony to the fact that interpretation of the fallout of a state cannabis law is going to be done by the federal courts, when the federal law, in and of itself, doesn’t even acknowledge cannabis as being legal,” Ryan Magee said.