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Several Hudson mayors ban cops from marijuana consumption

Local orders contradict statewide memo allowing officers to smoke

Mayor Fulop said on Twitter that the city is aligned more with federal rules than the new state rules.

As New Jersey begins recreational marijuana sales, several Hudson County towns are issuing directives banning all local police officers from marijuana consumption within their boundaries.

The first directives were announced for Jersey City and Bayonne by Mayors Steven Fulop and Jimmy Davis respectively the day before sales began, with both saying that they are more aligned with federal standards.

“The fact is that all of the officers/recruits attest to the federal govt via [the 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,” said Fulop on Twitter.

Both mayors argued allowing law enforcement to smoke will put their officers and communities at risk, and that marijuana testing to determine consumption and under the influence also don’t exist.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said that Hudson County’s largest town will be banning cops from off-duty consumption. Photo by Mark Koosau.

“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,” said Davis in a statement.

In Jersey City, any officers that are caught consuming marijuana will be fired.

“There will be no ambiguity on how JCPD will approach this + we will pursue legally if tested via the federal court system,” Fulop said on Twitter. “Bottom line is, trust is fragile between communities/police + we should make sure that there isn’t compromised judgement + NJ is an outlier nationally on not having a carve out for law enforcement.”

The two were then joined by Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and Kearny Mayor Al Santos in telling the Jersey Journal that they would also be barring off-duty cops from marijuana consumption. Turner told the Journal that he hopes that the state “will come up with a policy that makes sense and it is just something that we really have to be careful with.”

The directives from the towns come after acting State Attorney General Matthew Platkin sent a memo saying that all statewide officers are permitted to use marijuana off-duty, and that they’re allowed so under the new laws passed last year, though they will not be allowed usage while on duty.

Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner told the Jersey Journal that his town will also bar cops from off-duty consumption. Photo by Mark Koosau.

“As Acting Attorney General, public safety is my top priority, and I share concerns about how legal cannabis impacts the role of police in our State,” said Platkin in a statement. “I welcome conversations on how best to protect public safety. Any efforts by local governments to subject officers to additional requirements in the interim, however, may present employment law issues that we anticipate will be handled between those governments and officers in the appropriate course.”

Jersey City and the state Attorney General’s office had previously disputed over cannabis usage. In 2018, Fulop and municipal prosecutor Jake Hudnut had put a new local marijuana decriminalization policy, but was disputed by then-Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, saying that it violated state criminal laws at the time.

Hudson County does not have any open recreational stores, but Jersey City was in the process of giving a number of applicants planning board approval. Bayonne also approved a number of new cannabis restrictions in the peninsula.

Recently, Gov. Phil Murphy also said that he’s open to legislation that would ban cops to using marijuana off-duty.

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.

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