City workers warned against legal marijuana use

WOODLAND PARK — The city’s 120 employees have been told that if they use marijuana it could result in their dismissal, Mayor Keith Kazmark said.

“Regardless of this change in law, the Borough Council and I want to emphasize that all policies and procedures and rules and regulations applicable to employees of the Borough of Woodland Park will remain the same,” Kazmark said.

Although it applies to all city employees, it is more likely to affect those who work for the police and public works departments, as they are subject to random drug tests, officials said of the borough.

“Our police officers are responsible for ensuring our public safety, enforcing laws and serving as protectors,” Kazmark said. “Our DPW workers operate heavy equipment and hold CDL licenses to perform their infrastructure maintenance duties, keeping our city beautiful.”

Other workers are also responsible for serving the community, such as those in building and recreation services. However, they will likely only be tested if there is a suspicion of work impairment.

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“Although cannabis use is now legal,” Kazmark said, “we, as city employees and civil servants, must provide services to our residents and customers with a clear mind and optimal efficiency.”

It varies for how long traces of cannabis products remain in the system, but for some it can be 30 days or more, according to studies. A 1985 study of chronic marijuana users found that the average time it took heavy smokers to pass a urine drug screen was 27 days, according to

In the event of an accident or incident in the workplace, it will be difficult to discern whether an employee was intoxicated at the time or whether a positive drug result was due to prior use, have said city officials. The results would be used to determine the municipality’s responsibility for the incident.

Woodland Park Police Chief John Uzzalino said he discussed the matter with Kazmark after a meeting of the association of police chiefs in which other police chiefs discussed the fact that the departments n hadn’t received a clear directive from the state attorney general’s office.

Uzzalino said marijuana is still illegal under federal law and current testing methods don’t provide details on when the individual used the drug or was intoxicated.

Ascend Rochelle Park begins adult recreational marijuana sales on April 21, 2022. People 21 and older can purchase marijuana at select dispensaries without a medical card.

Many liability issues could arise, Kazmark said — for example, if a DPW employee crashes a truck or a police officer fires a gun and their drug test result is positive.

Woodland Park is not alone in assessing the potential risks. The state attorney general’s office said Jersey City and Bayonne took similar positions.

Paterson, while having no policies in place to discipline its leaders, recognizes the risks.

“We have a policy that strongly advises officers to refrain,” Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said, “for their own protection and safety.”

In Passaic, politics is more about personal responsibility, Mayor Hector Lora said.

“I wonder if City Hall employees work hard to keep our city safe and clean and treat people with courtesy, respect and good customer service, and not how they responsibly choose to spend their time legally. free time,” Lora said. .

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Uzzalino said he spoke to his department’s union, which represents the 16 patrollers, and they agree with the township’s no-use policy.

“A lot of these guys have dreamed of being officers since they were kids,” the chief said.

Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said that in response to questions from law enforcement officials, he issued a memo outlining the rights and responsibilities of police officers, as codified in the Law Enforcement Act. cannabis regulation, enforcement assistance and market modernization.

“The April 13 memo simply reflects the letter of the law,” Platkin said, “including its impact on police officers, and in no way goes beyond the plain text of the law as it stands. writing or regulations that the Cannabis Regulatory Commission has published.”

It does not reflect a political position he has taken.

“To be clear, I share the concerns expressed by some elected officials, legislators and others regarding the off-duty use of legal cannabis by police officers,” he said.

Officials from the attorney general’s office said other states that have legalized cannabis have made exceptions to the law, some of which specify whether police officers can use marijuana.

Matt Fagan is a local reporter for For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @fagan_nj

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