July 2, 2024

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Can First Responders Use Recreational Marijuana?

 
Gordon Graham
Category: Public Safety

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for all my friends in public safety, and it’s about recreational cannabis use.

Make sure to read your agency’s policy about recreational marijuana use and ask clarifying questions if necessary. Keep in mind that policy and general expectations may be stricter than the law.

There’s a good chance you live in a state where recreational use of cannabis is legal. And if your state hasn’t legalized it yet, it may soon do so. But as a public safety professional, it’s not as simple as, “It’s legal here, so I can do it.” There’s a lot more to consider.

First, as of this filming, federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that even if you’re using in a state where it’s legalized, you’re committing a federal crime. Do you own a gun? Federal law bans individuals who are unlawful users of any controlled substance from possessing firearms.

Now, I know none of you listening to this would come to work high. But even “responsible” use of cannabis can backfire. If you’re involved in a traffic collision or a use of force incident, you may be subject to drug testing. Many agencies have random substance testing too.

Folks, these tests can be positive for as long as 30 days after you’ve used the drug. Test positive, and you’ve got an instant personal credibility problem – not to mention liability for you and the agency.

It’s also important to consider the health consequences of cannabis use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention links use to lung health and mental health issues. Other research has shown an increase in heart disease among regular cannabis users.

Finally, make sure to read your agency’s policy about cannabis use and ask clarifying questions if necessary. Keep in mind that policy and general expectations may be stricter than the law.

Recreational cannabis use is a quickly evolving area of policy, legislation, and case law. Stay up to date on these issues. Use common sense before doing something that could have an adverse impact on your career.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.

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