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N.Y. town drops cannabis testing from PD’s pre-employment requirements

“It’s really not fair to discriminate against these people who use a legal product,” Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said; recreational cannabis use has been legal in the state of New York since 2021

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Chief Egidio Tinti said that some police agencies, such as the state police, continue to have a strict prohibition against the use of marijuana — including medical marijuana — in keeping with federal prohibitions against marijuana users from possessing or buying firearms and ammunition.

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By Patricia R. Doxsey
Daily Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

KINGSTON, N.Y. — City police officers and those applying to work for the police department will no longer be tested for the presence of cannabis in their systems.

Mayor Steve Noble told members of the city’s Police Commission during a Feb. 21 meeting that the city is dropping cannabis testing from the pre-employment and random testing.

Summer Smith, the city’s director of communications and community engagement, said the testing was dropped from the city’s protocols effective Feb. 22.

“Being it’s legal, it’s really not fair to discriminate against these people who use a legal product,” Noble said during the meeting.

When New York legalized recreational cannabis in March 2021, it left it to individual law enforcement agencies to establish regulations governing the use and testing of police officers.

Chief Egidio Tinti said that some police agencies, such as the state police, continue to have a strict prohibition against the use of marijuana — including medical marijuana — in keeping with federal prohibitions against marijuana users from possessing or buying firearms and ammunition.

Under federal law, marijuana remains illegal to use or possess.

“At the local law enforcement level, it really falls to the local agency,” Tinti said.

Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa said marijuana usage by employees is prohibited both by department policy and contractually.

“Marijuana usage is not allowed within the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office ,” Figueroa said. “If (an employee) tests positive, they’re in violation of the policy of the office.”

Tinti said one of the difficulties with testing for cannabis is that, unlike alcohol, which leaves a person’s system quickly, cannabis can remain in a person’s system for days so it’s impossible to know whether an individual used the cannabis that day or days earlier.

That doesn’t mean, though, that police officers will have a green light to patrol the city’s streets high.

“If someone comes to work and they are under the influence of anything at all the supervisor is going to be aware,” said Chief Egidio Tinti.

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