How Changes in California Law Impact Police Officer Recruitment and Cannabis Use

How Changes in California Law Impact Police Officer Recruitment and Cannabis Use
California recently amended its state law to prevent employers, including law enforcement agencies, from discriminating against job applicants based on past or off-duty cannabis use. Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 700 last October, prompting changes in employment policies for police officers. The Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training issued a bulletin on Dec. 7, announcing alterations in how aspiring officers are questioned about previous cannabis use.

The amendments, effective January 1, 2024, remove inquiries about past cannabis use from police job applications in compliance with Government Code section 12954, which prohibits discrimination regarding off-duty cannabis use. The revised forms are available on the POST website. While inquiries about criminal history remain unchanged, drug testing policies and adjustments are left to individual hiring agencies to comply with the law.

Similar protections for off-duty cannabis use already exist for most job types in California, established through Assembly Bill 2188 signed by Newsom in September 2022. This law makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against individuals for off-duty cannabis use starting from January 1, 2024.

Notably, these changes align with evolving attitudes towards past cannabis use among law enforcement applicants in different states. Nevada amended hiring standards, allowing applicants with certain cannabis-related offenses to apply for peace officer positions, whereas New Jersey faces a legal challenge preventing police officers from using cannabis even off-duty due to federal firearm laws.

In contrast, California and some other states are opting to permit prospective police officers who have previously used cannabis, reflecting a shift in approach toward past marijuana consumption in law enforcement recruitment.

Reading next

Ohio Enters Legal Marijuana Landscape: Legislative Amendments and Path Ahead
Details on California's New Workplace Cannabis Protections: What You Need to Know (AB 2188)

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