TOMS RIVER, NJ – Ocean County’s Sheriff’s Officers, both civil service and those in Sheriff Michael Mastronardy’s growing personal team of special investigators, are not allowed to consume cannabis while off-duty. That message comes after a strongly worded letter by the Ocean County Board of Commissioners and Sheriff Mastronardy.
In a press release, the commissioners noted that federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners John P. Kelly and Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy asked Governor Phil Murphy to ban the use of recreational cannabis by police and other law enforcement officers.
“The sheriff feels very strongly about this and asked me to address it at today’s public meeting,” Kelly said at the start of the April 20 Commissioners’ meeting. “I agree that the governor needs to immediately address this issue.”
Legal recreational marijuana sales for adults 21 years of age and older went into effect in New Jersey on April 21. On April 13 the state Attorney General’s Office issues a directive allowing off-duty law enforcement officers to use marijuana, the county’s information department said in a press release.
“The directive further emphasized that being under the influence of legal cannabis or any other intoxicating substance while on duty was a violation and should be addressed in severe terms,” Kelly said. “Marijuana when consumed, stays in your system for 30 days and there are no field tests to determine the level of marijuana intoxication.”
Kelly and the commissioners did not single out any other professions such as truck drivers, teachers, pilots, firefighters, etc.
Citing federal law, Kelly said marijuana is still classified as illegal under federal law, any agency that allows its officers to use the drug could be ineligible to receive certain federal grants.
“The Ocean County Sheriff will continue to follow federal law,” Kelly said.
Both Mastronardy and the Board of Commissioners called on the governor and the state Legislature to, “put the safety of our citizens and law enforcement community first and address the issue of recreational cannabis use by law enforcement officers.”
Under the current law, a police officer who shows up for work impaired by alcohol, drugs, marijuana or any other means is subject to a penalty and could lose their jobs.
Phil Stilton also made contributions to this article.