New Jersey’s end to cannabis prohibition came with 67.1% of support from voters in the November 2020 election, but now state lawmakers are attempting to scale back that reform.
Earlier this month, Assemblyman Edward Thomson and Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer—both Republicans—introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 3870, that aims to allow employers the ability to prohibit cannabis use by certain employees, even while they’re not working.
Under the proposed legislation, an employer shall prohibit the personal use of cannabis for the following employees:
- Any person who operates heavy machinery;
- Any person who operates weapons;
- Any person whose use would put the public at serious risk; and
- Law enforcement officers.
“This bill amends the Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization (CREAMM) Act to prohibit certain categories of employees from the personal use of recreational cannabis,” according to a bill statement from the sponsors. “Specifically, this bill permits an employer to prohibit any use of cannabis if the person operates heavy machinery or weapons, or whose use of cannabis would put the public at risk. Further, this bill permits employers of law enforcement officers to prohibit use of cannabis.”
All employees prohibited from cannabis use under the legislation would be subject to employer policies as it relates to drug testing.
That legislation is just one of three bills introduced this month that attempts to restrict off-the-job cannabis use by certain workers.
Assemblyman Louis Greenwald and Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro—both Democrats—are sponsoring A.B. 3914, which would permit law enforcement agencies to prohibit recreational cannabis use by law enforcement officers.
And Democratic Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, who signed on as a co-sponsor for A.B. 3914, introduced her own legislation, A.B. 3868, which aims to prohibit paid first responders from engaging in recreational cannabis use.
Those bill filings came on the heels of state Attorney General Matt Platkin issuing a memo April 13 to law enforcement leaders reminding them that New Jersey law allows for police officers to use cannabis when they’re off duty—a note that came just ahead of the state’s April 21 launch of adult-use sales—the New Jersey Monitor reported last month.
“To be clear, there should be zero tolerance for cannabis use, possession or intoxication while performing the duties of a law enforcement officer,” Platkin said. “And there should be zero tolerance for unregulated marijuana consumption by officers at any time, on or off duty, while employed in this state.”
Sawyer—who’s sponsoring the bill that takes aim at limiting cannabis use by law enforcement and those who operate weapons or heavy machinery—took issue with Platkin’s memo, specifically stating that cannabis remains federally illegal as grounds for her opposition to his memo’s directive.
“Anyone who wants to work in public safety must be held to higher standards,” the assemblywoman said in a statement. “Our men and women in law enforcement have the responsibility to make life-altering decisions on a daily basis, for themselves, their partners, for the public. I want to trust that they are at their best when doing so. The attorney general’s directive on CREAMMA leaves much to be desired.”
Sawyer and Thomson’s legislation was referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, as were the other two bills.
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