While a directive issued by Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin last week said off-duty police officer will be allowed to use marijuana, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said that won’t happen in New Jersey’s second largest municipality.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Our local police leadership will be issuing a directive today to the nearly 1000 police officers in #JerseyCity that we respect Nj’s position BUT to clarify in JC officers (on duty/off duty) will not be permitted to smoke marijuana + will result in termination,” Fulop said in a Twitter thread this morning.
“The fact is that all of the officers/recruits attest to the federal govt via DOJ + ATF paperwork when they receive their firearms that they will not use any federal prohibited drugs including marijuana. NJ’s policies allowing law enforcement to smoke is an outlier nationally and one that will put our officers + community at risk with impaired judgement.”
The mayor continued that tests and timelines with alcohol “that can create clear protection between consumption and duty” don’t exist with marijuana.
Last week, Platkin sent a memo to law enforcement leaders across the state indicating that they will be able to use marijuana once it is available for retail sale tomorrow, also noting a zero tolerance for use, possession, or intoxication for officers on duty.
The memo did not make any mention of municipalities being able to opt out or make their own local regulations.
To that end, Fulop also said on Twitter that the city is ready to defend their position in federal court if needed.
“There will be no ambiguity on how JCPD will approach this + we will pursue legally if tested via the federal court system. Bottom line is trust is fragile between communities/police + we should make sure that there isn’t compromised judgement + NJ is[.]”
His announcement comes on April 20th, or 4/20, the unofficial “holiday” to celebrate marijuana usage.
The attorney general’s office did not return an email seeking comment, but Jersey City Police Officer Benevolent Association President Det. Joe Cossolini said he feels it’s clear this directive violates the one issued by the state.
“I believe the entire State of New Jersey should pay close attention to this blatant disregard for the legislative process and the rule of law,” he told HCV.
“This law was enacted 14 months ago; yet, Mayor Fulop has now decided that does not want to follow the law of this State but wants Jersey City to make up its own. This is a disturbing and problematic message to send the public and constituents, many of whom are police officers.”
He also commended state Senate President Nick Scutari (D-22) for telling NJ Advance Media yesterday that he was against regulating people’s behavior during their free time.
His remarks came after Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said on Monday that he was “open” to the possibility of amending legislation to prevent police officers from using marijuana while off duty.
Police Superior Officers Association Andrew LaBruno said that he did not agree with the city taking a stance contrary to the AG’s on this issue.
“Attorney General Matthew Platkin is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the State of New Jersey. His directive issued on April 13th, 2022, on the provisions of CREMMA was very clear. While this is an evolving situation, which will most likely be determined through further legislation or litigation, for any entity or local government to take a hard stance and actions against the AG’s directive is concerning,” he said today.
“The safety of our communities and the well-being and protection of our officers is paramount. Public safety should not be caught up in second guessing. This needs to be a conversation with all parties at the table to determine what is in the best interest of public safety for the residents of Jersey City and the welfare of our officers of the JCPD.”
This is not the first time Jersey City and the AG’s office have had a difference of opinion on marijuana.
In July 2018, then-Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the city did not have the authority to decriminalize marijuana – one day after the prosecutor’s office announced they had done so.
” … After all the rhetoric in Trenton surrounding racial and social injustices, it’s baffling why Trenton would try and enforce rules that are counter to everything they have previously stated publicly,” Fulop said at the time.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association President Andrew LaBruno.