Police Rethink Bans on Pot Use by Officer Job Seekers

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As more states relax their approach to marijuana, police departments are rethinking how many hits are too many for aspiring officers, reports the Wall Street Journal. A Maryland standard set to take effect June 1 bars applicants if they smoked pot in the past three years, the same policy used by the FBI. The previous policy ruled out those who had used marijuana at least 20 times or at least five times since age 21. “We are disqualifying otherwise perfectly qualified applicants based on a hiring standard that I think is inconsistent with where we are as a profession and a society,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, vice chairman of the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission, which approved the more relaxed policy last week.

With marijuana laws changing in areas around the U.S., some police departments are considering candidates with more recent use. Jim Pasco of the Fraternal Order of Police criticized Maryland’s new policy for allowing people who smoked marijuana illegally to pursue a career as enforcers of laws. “So you’re basically saying with that change that if you broke the law 20 times, it’s OK as long as you haven’t done it lately,” he said. “How would that apply to bank robbery or mail fraud? The idea here is you want people who respect the law, whatever the law is.” Jim Bueermann of the Police Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said police leaders are “trying to find that balance between keeping moral character and integrity of their workforce high, while at the same time being realistic about societal expectations.”

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