GOP senators blast NJ AG for memo on police using weed off duty

TRENTON — Twelve Republican state senators have written to Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin expressing concern that state law and guidance allows off-duty police officers to use marijuana recreationally.

The sale of marijuana to any adult is now legal at 13 New Jersey dispensaries. Ahead of the expansion of legal cannabis on Thursday, Platkin said in a memo last week that police departments should not take action against officers who fail a drug test unless an expert in Drug recognition doesn’t say they’re intoxicated.

In the letter, the senators say the memo ignores that the federal government prohibits marijuana users from buying or owning firearms. Jersey City cited the same concern in banning marijuana use by off-duty officers, in conflict with Platkin’s memo.

“We are writing to you now to express our deep concern at the advice provided in the memorandum and to ask for your help in mitigating some of the damage it will undoubtedly cause,” the letter, led by the minority leader at Senate, Steve Oroho, R-Sussex.

“While we strongly question the wisdom of encouraging officers to use marijuana while off duty, we are deeply troubled by the inevitable consequences of this policy for municipal and county governments, which go beyond the potential loss of federal contracts or funding,” they wrote. .

The senators suggested that Platkin take all steps in his power to protect the police department from liability in lawsuits brought in connection with the actions of officers who test positive for marijuana, traces of which remain in a person’s system long after they are no longer drunk.

“These agencies will be at greater risk of liability for the actions of officers who test positive for marijuana as a result of any incident involving the death or injury of a member of the public or any other person,” they wrote. “Even when such claims are dismissed for lack of merit, they can be extremely costly. Unfortunately, it is taxpayers who ultimately bear the brunt of these costs. »

There are 16 Republicans in the state Senate. The letter was signed by all but four: Jon Bramnick, R-Union; Joseph Pennacchio, R-Morris; Vince Polistina, R-Atlantic; and Jean Stanfield, R-Burlington.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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