Cops Smoke Weed, Too! – NJ Judge Reinstates New Jersey Police Officer Who Tested Positive for Marijuana

August 11, 2023 · Cannabis.net

After testing positive for THC in a drug test, a police officer in Jersey City, New Jersey, faced dismissal. However, in a recent development, the officer, Norhan Mansour, has been reinstated to his position, complete with retroactive pay.

Notably, this incident occurred well after Gov. Phil Murphy had signed a bill legalizing adult-use cannabis in New Jersey back in 2021, paving the way for sales to commence in April 2022. Following the bill’s enactment, the Jersey City Police Department made it clear that despite the legalization of cannabis, police officers were still prohibited from its consumption during their time.

This stance was enforced even as Mansour and three other officers lost their jobs after testing positive for THC in June 2022.

The climax of this situation occurred when all four officers, including Mansour, pursued legal action by filing a lawsuit in April 2023. Subsequently, Mansour’s reinstatement to the police force signifies a significant turning point in the ongoing debate surrounding cannabis use among law enforcement personnel.

Mansour’s attorney, Peter Paris, highlighted the inconsistency in his client’s termination. What Jersey City has done is similar to firing police officers for having a beer while off duty, Paris stated in June. He added that the situation is even more problematic because there is no constitutional right to consume alcohol. Whereas, in New Jersey, a constitutional right exists to use cannabis.

The Resolution

As per a June report by the Jersey City Times, the case found resolution through the intervention of the New Jersey Civil Service Commission. In a decision favoring Mansour’s reinstatement, Judge Kimberly Moss asserted that state law prohibits employers from dismissing an employee solely based on the employee’s use of cannabis or the mere presence of cannabinoid metabolites in the employee’s system,” Moss explained.

During a gathering held on August 2, the Commission expressed its skepticism towards the city’s stance, deeming it “unconvincing.” Moreover, the Commission clarified that the federal prohibition on cannabis users possessing firearms does not extend to law enforcement personnel. The Civil Service Commission has concluded that the decision made by the appointing authority to terminate the appellant was not warranted,” the Commission officially stated.

Consequently, the Commission overturned the decision and upheld Norhan Mansour’s appeal. Additionally, the Commission has directed that the appellant receive retroactive compensation, benefits, and seniority starting from the initial date of separation without pay until the day of reinstatement.

In October of 2022, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission brought forth a fresh set of guidelines about drug testing protocols for law enforcement personnel within the state. Subsequently, by February 2023, Attorney General Matthew Platkin revised a policy concerning drug testing for law enforcement professionals.

Platkin affirmed that it has become imperative to amend this policy. Policy amendment is necessary given the intricate legal landscape and establishing consistency in drug testing for state employees concerning cannabis usage.

Cannabis and Gun Ownership

Firearm ownership by individuals has undergone extensive examination in recent years, encompassing discussions surrounding law enforcement and civilian possession within the framework of federal regulations.

In a preceding year, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried unveiled her intention to initiate legal action against the Biden administration. Her objective was to challenge a federal regulation restricting medical marijuana users from acquiring firearms or retaining concealed-carry licenses.

Subsequently, in Florida last November, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit prohibiting medical cannabis users from purchasing firearms.

In February, a federal court case in Oklahoma delivered a ruling deeming the prohibition of firearm ownership for cannabis consumers unconstitutional. Brian Vicente, a representative from Vicente Sederberg LLP, characterized this case as a notable advancement in safeguarding the rights of cannabis consumers.

 Vicente shared with High Times in February that for many years, across different states, individuals relying on medical cannabis have been confronted with a dilemma. They must choose between engaging in their state’s lawful cannabis initiative or possessing a firearm.

This federal court verdict solidifies the entitlement of adults to both utilize cannabis and possess firearms, effectively eliminating the constraint and associated societal stigma that these individuals have encountered.

It also aligns with a broader trend of conservative states embracing marijuana policies, as evidenced by the establishment of medical cannabis programs in Alabama and Mississippi in 2022, along with Oklahoma, poised to legalize cannabis on March 7 of the same year.

Likewise, a similar federal court ruling took place in Texas in April, determining that prohibiting individuals from owning firearms due to their cannabis consumption is unconstitutional. The legal documentation for the case asserted, “Fundamentally, there exists no historical precedent for withholding an individual’s Second Amendment rights solely based on marijuana use, whether in whole or in part.

Conclusion

In the complex landscape of cannabis legalization and its implications for law enforcement, the reinstatement of Norhan Mansour as a police officer in Jersey City, New Jersey, is a significant milestone. This case has brought the intricate intersection of constitutional rights, evolving legal frameworks, and societal norms to the forefront.

The resolution of this situation by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission highlights the importance of legal interpretation and balancing rights. Judge Kimberly Moss’s ruling emphasized that state law prevents employers from dismissing employees solely due to cannabis use or its presence in their system. The Commission’s skepticism towards the city’s stance underscores the need for coherent and fair approaches to addressing the consumption of legal substances by law enforcement officers.

This case also echoes the broader debate around cannabis and gun ownership. Recent legal decisions at the federal level and within individual states have challenged the prohibition of firearm ownership for cannabis users. The court’s recognition of the rights of individuals to both use cannabis and possess firearms illustrates the shifting tide of acceptance and understanding surrounding the use of this substance.

As conservative states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Oklahoma embrace cannabis policies, and as legal battles challenge restrictions on gun ownership for cannabis consumers, it is evident that the legal landscape is evolving. The intricate interplay between individual rights, law enforcement policies, and societal attitudes reshapes how we approach these complex issues. (Full Story)

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