Nevada law enforcement regulators are proposing to revise the state’s employment policy so that prior marijuana possession convictions for amounts that are now legal would no longer be a disqualifying factor for police recruits.
The Nevada Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission submitted the proposed change days after members voted to continue the rulemaking process for the potential reform earlier this month.
As it stands, the state’s guidelines say that people cannot be employed as peace officers if they’ve been “convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude or the unlawful use, sale or possession of a controlled substance.”
The commission is now proposing to add language that carves out an exception to that rule for people with “marijuana convictions for use or possession that would not be prosecutable under the law as of January 1, 2023.”
That wouldn’t mean that officers could use cannabis duty once they are 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.
Like many agencies and companies, Nevada law enforcement has grappled with cannabis employment policy since the state enacted adult-use legalization.
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.
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Meanwhile, POST isn’t the state’s only regulatory body that’s reevaluating cannabis policy.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) recently 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.
NSAC, which regulates unarmed combat sports within the state, voted unanimously to stop penalizing professional fighters for testing positive for marijuana in 2021, but the policy hasn’t been integrated into the code. The new amendment would change that.
In the Nevada legislature, the Assembly also recently approved a resolution urging Congress to legalize marijuana, sending it to the state Senate.
Lawmakers have also taken up a proposal to increase the state’s cannabis possession limit and remove barriers to employment in the marijuana industry.
Last month, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved a revised bill that would create a new working group to study psychedelics and develop a plan to allow regulated access for therapeutic purposes.
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