New Jersey town grapples with cops consuming cannabis
After just one gummy, an Ocean City, NJ police officer is fighting for her job. Police officers, firefighters, and other first responders might find off-duty cannabis consumption beneficial. But with the strict guidelines in place and gray illegality from state to federal law, many don’t have the chance to find out. But the battle in Ocean City is illuminating the gray areas.
Officer Norhan Mansour of the Jersey City Police Department was removed from duty on March 2, 2023, for testing positive for cannabis. She was reinstated after a ruling and reversal from the Civil Service Commission earlier this month. However, she has yet to return to active duty, and an appeal from the city is in the works.
She is one of four Ocean City officers fighting for their jobs after being fired for consuming off-duty. This is the first to be heard by the Civil Service Commission.
New Jersey legalized adult-use cannabis in April 2022 with the CREAMM Act. Shortly after, the state’s Attorney General Matt Platkin issued a memo stating that police should not be penalized for consuming regulated cannabis off-duty.
In response to the memo, Ocean City Mayor Steve Fulop published a five-part tweet expressing his disagreement.
5/5 For the record; I have been a staunch supporter of legalization and we have made Jersey City the most flexible with regards to legalization for our community but responsible protections for our officer and community is important. The trust between police/community is fragile
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) April 20, 2022
In June 2023, the conflict reached Administrative Law Judge Kimberly Moss. Judge Moss acknowledged the complications of federal illegality when it comes to cannabis consumption and police officers. But in the end, she enforces state laws, not federal ones.
The judge ruled in favor of Mansour for a few reasons. Her job performance never faltered, nor did she consume cannabis on duty. She abided by state law and was off the clock when she ate the infused gummy.
Moss also brought attention to the legal protections in place for employees in the state. Cannabis consumption can not be a factor in firing or hiring someone in New Jersey.
Despite the rule, Mansour hasn’t been on active duty since being reinstated. A spokesperson for Mayor Fulop told the New Jersey Monitor that an appeal to the order for reinstatement is already in the works.
As Ocean City officers duke it out for their right to consume, other departments in New Jersey and the country are surely taking note. The complexities of cannabis legality aren’t lost on the cops, but this case flips the concept on its head. In this seaside town, the call is coming from inside the house.