N.J. lawmakers seek to curb cannabis use

N.J. lawmakers seek to curb cannabis use

by Sophie Nieto-Munoz, New Jersey Monitor

As New Jersey nears the end of its first month of legal recreational marijuana sales, lawmakers have introduced a series of bills aimed at restricting what types of workers can use cannabis off the job.

One measure (S2518), sponsored by Sen. Robert Singer (R-Ocean), would amend the state’s recreational marijuana law to ban cannabis consumption for any employee who operates heavy machinery or uses weapons, or whose use of cannabis would “put the public at risk.” That would include any workers who operate tractors, dump trucks, excavators, and bulldozers, plus law enforcement officers.

Lawmakers have been debating whether police officers should be allowed to partake in recreational marijuana since acting Attorney General Matt Platkin sent a memo last month reminding police departments that the law allows cops to use marijuana off duty. The memo prompted several cities and counties to say they will prohibit cannabis use by police officers.

Another bill (A3914), sponsored by Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden), would also prohibit law enforcement from using cannabis.

It’s not clear whether any of the bills aimed at restricting cannabis use has the support of state Senate President Nicholas Scutari, a supporter of legal cannabis who has said it would be a “very dangerous, slippery slope” to regulate what people do when they’re not at work. Gov. Phil Murphy said he’d be open to restricting cannabis use among police officers.

Greenwald’s bill would also amend the marijuana law to again allow employers to conduct random drug tests for marijuana and use drug test results to determine whether to hire or fire someone. Current law no longer allows employers to use positive marijuana drug test results as grounds to fire someone, since drug tests cannot detect when cannabis was used. The drug can stay in a person’s system for up to one month. 

Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) introduced legislation Friday that would expand the “implied consent law” to include blood testing for driving under the influence of marijuana. Under the current implied consent law, anyone who drives on a public road is effectively giving consent to a breath test to determine their blood alcohol content. 

The new measure (S2616) would expand that to blood testing. Anyone who refuses the blood test would face the same penalties as a drunk driving charge. 

Another bill (A3868) would bar cannabis use among first responders, including firefighters, ambulance and emergency rescue squads, EMTs, paramedics, and 911 dispatchers.

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