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(Photo: Paige Fielder.)

South Jersey legislators have questions for Platkin on cops and cannabis

By David Wildstein, April 26 2022 11:30 am

A group of eight South Jersey lawmakers are pressing acting Attorney General Matt Platkin for clarification of his recent memo that says police officers should not face any disciplinary action for off-duty cannabis use.

“While some of us were proponents of the expansion of recreational cannabis in our state, we are seeking clarification on the legal basis for this decision because it seems to contradict federal law and regulations and may present confusion to our law enforcement community, said the legislators – Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Voorhees), State Sens. Troy Singleton (D-Delran), James Beach (D-Voorhees) and Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-Barrington) and Assembly members Carol Murphy (D-Mount Laurel), Pamela Lampitt (D-Cherry Hill), Paul Moriarty (D-Washington) and William Moen (D-Camden).

The legislators want to know how Platkin squares his policy with U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) recommendation that marijuana users not have access to guns or ammunitions.

“Considering that one of the essential job functions of a police officer is to lawfully possess and use a firearm and ammunition, and federal law prohibits a person from using marijuana — legal or otherwise — and possessing a firearm, then police officers in New Jersey should not be permitted to consume legal cannabis products whether they are on- or off-duty,” the group said.  Could you please explain, in light of the ATF’s reasoning outlined above, how a local law enforcement agency issuing a firearm or ammunition to a known user of marijuana can be legally justified without violating federal law?

But four South Jerseyans in the legislature – a full one-third of the delegation – did not sign the letter: State Sen. Fred Madden (D-Washington), a former acting New Jersey State Police Superintendent; Assemblywoman Gabrielle Mosquera (D-Gloucester Township), and Assemblymen William Spearman (D-Camden) and Herbert Conaway, Jr. (D-Delran).

Last week, a group of Republican state senators also questioned Platkin’s memo, saying it  “fails to mention that marijuana users are federally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, an omission that may put officers unknowingly at risk of criminal prosecution.”  That letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho (R-Franklin), along with Robert Singer (R-Lakewood), Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa), Holly Schepisi (R-River-Vale), Anthony Bucco (R-Boonton), Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver), Michael Doherty (R-Oxford), Christopher Connors (R-Lacey), Edward Durr (R-Swedesboro), James Holzapfel (R-Toms River), Michael Testa, Jr. (R-Vineland),  and Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge).

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