A Nevada commission will hear public comment this week on a proposal that would amend hiring standards for police officers to allow job candidates who were previously disqualified for certain marijuana-related offenses to be eligible for law enforcement positions.
The change being considered by the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) at Thursday meeting would amend regulations around hiring that currently prevent a person from becoming a peace officer if they have been convicted of an offense involving the unlawful use, sale or possession of a controlled substance.
The new language would state that the restriction doesn’t apply “to a person who has been convicted of an offense involving the unlawful use, sale, or possession of marijuana if the offense is not unlawful at the time the person submits an application for certification as a police officer.”
A notice of intent says the change would expand the pool of eligible candidates for law enforcement positions and “aid agencies in the ability to fill much needed positions.” There would be no adverse effects from the change, it says, nor additional costs to regulators.
Members of the public wishing to comment on the proposal can either appear in person at the October 26 meeting, held at 8 a.m. in Napa Room B of the Southpoint Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Approval of the change would not mean that officers could use cannabis once employed, but it would represent a significant policy change, especially given that the current rules are written in a way that explicitly emphasizes the no-tolerance policy for marijuana.
“As with any psychoactive drug, POST strongly believes there is no room for marijuana usage in the policing profession,” the current administration manual says. “POST strongly encourages law enforcement agencies across the state to adopted [sic] policies prohibiting the on or off duty recreational or medical use of marijuana.”
It even goes so far as to say that people who merely possess a state-issued medical cannabis patient card are “prohibited from attending POST courses, including the Basic Training Academy.” It’s unclear if the commission, which discussed the pending cannabis rules change at an earlier meeting in February, will maintain such language should the new proposed regulation be adopted.
The POST Commission submitted the proposed rule change in May.
After a Las Vegas police officer was fired for testing positive for THC metabolites in 2019, he sued the department, and a district judge ruled in 2021 that the zero-tolerance policy for cannabis was “untenable,” while agreeing with the plaintiff that state statute protects employees’ lawful use of marijuana outside of work.
Nevada leaders have recently approved a number of adjustments to marijuana rules, adopting a package of laws in June that doubled the state’s limit on personal possession and expanded business license eligibility for people with prior felony convictions.
Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) also signed legislation that month to create a new working group to study psychedelics and develop a plan to allow regulated access for therapeutic purposes.
In May, the state Senate approved a resolution urging Congress to federally legalize marijuana, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) voted to send a proposed regulatory amendment to the governor that would formally protect athletes from being penalized over using or possessing marijuana in compliance with state law.
Regulators this summer also began approving the state’s first conditional licenses for marijuana consumption lounges.
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.