New Jersey AG Releases Revised Drug Testing Policy for Law Enforcement
It’s been nearly a year since New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis program went live in April 2022. Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin revised his Law Enforcement Drug Testing Policy document to reflect this change for officers across the state. “Due to the complex nature of the law, and in order to provide uniformity in State employee drug testing as it pertains to the use of cannabis, it is necessary to revise this policy,” the document states in its introduction.
The revision also includes a section explaining the differences between drug testing for reasonable suspicion and probable cause. “Agencies must undertake drug testing when there is reasonable suspicion to believe a law enforcement officer is engaged in the illegal use of a controlled dangerous substance, or is under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, including unregulated marijuana, or cannabis during work hours,” the policy states. It adds that this requires objective facts to lead a person to conclude that drug-related activity has taken place.
The policy for reasonable cause is described as “less demanding” than establishing probable cause because 1) more is required to satisfy the probable cause standard and 2) the “type of information” for reasonable suspicion is “less reliable than that required to show [probable] cause.”
Being found under the influence of cannabis or consuming cannabis “at work or during work hours” is prohibited. Reasonable suspicion in testing officers for cannabis use will be required if there is reasonable suspicion of the individual’s use of cannabis during work, or “observable signs of intoxication.”
Platkin initially released a memo one day after legal sales began in April 2022, stating that police can use cannabis while off duty. At the time, some senators penned a letter to Platkin with concerns about how it “fails to mention that marijuana users are federally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, an omission that may put officers unknowingly at risk of criminal prosecution.”
In October 2022, just after Platkin was sworn in as attorney general, he issued a directive that required law enforcement agencies to conduct two random drug tests for “at least 10 percent of the total number of sworn officers within the agency, and every officer must have an equal chance of selection during each test.”
Within the first 10 weeks of sales following the launch of adult-use cannabis in April 2022, New Jersey collected nearly $80 million in sales. “The market is improving. It is performing as we expect with the current number of dispensaries, the spread of locations, and the high prices,” said New Jersey Regulatory Commission Executive Director Jeff Brown. “As more cannabis businesses come online, consumers won’t have to travel as far to make purchases, and prices will fall with increased competition. The market will do even better.”
More recently, sales reached more than $100 million. “New Jersey is only seeing the beginning of what is possible for cannabis,” said Brown last month in January. “We have now awarded 36 annual licenses for recreational cannabis businesses to New Jersey entrepreneurs, including 15 for dispensaries. Those businesses alone will be a significant growth of the market. With more locations and greater competition, we expect the customer base to grow and prices to come down.” New Jersey’s cannabis industry continues to thrive, attracting big celebrities such as Raekwon and Ice-T to open a dispensary in the state.
Next up, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission is establishing a plan to permit public cannabis lounges. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the agency released draft rules at the end of January, which would allow cannabis dispensaries to have indoor or outdoor spaces for legal consumption.