State order to reinstate 2 police officers fired for testing positive for marijuana sparks debate in Jersey City
A recent state order to reinstate two officers who were fired after testing positive for marijuana has sparked a debate in Jersey City.
Michael Rubas, the officer’s attorney, tells News 12 they are still waiting to get their jobs back. He argues that his clients are protected under state law, but the city believes having them on the force is a violation of federal law.
The issue began when officers Norhan Mansour and Omar Polanco tested positive for cannabis in 2022. State records show there were no allegations that either officer had been impaired or used the substance while on duty.
Prior to those drug tests, Jersey City police issued a policy banning officers from using marijuana while on or off duty because it is illegal under federal law.
Both officers were removed from the force following the test.
In August, the State Civil Service Commission upheld a judge’s decision for Mansour to be reinstated with back pay. The New Jersey Office of Administrative Law also ruled in favor of Polanco.
Rubas sent News 12 a statement citing a law that he says blocks agencies from penalizing officers for off duty marijuana use. It said in part:
"While we are pleased that the Civil Service Commission confirmed the employment protections of the CREAMM Act and ordered the immediate reinstatement of Officer Mansour, we are disappointed that three weeks later, Jersey City remains in violation of that order by refusing to return Officer Mansour to employment. We look forward to the day when Jersey City follows the rule of law."
Meanwhile, a Jersey City spokesperson argues that federal law prohibits officers from carrying a handgun if they have tested positive for marijuana. She also says that the officers were offered other public safety positions with the city but declined.
The city declined News 12’s request for an interview. However, a spokesperson says that Jersey City has been "a strong proponent for legalization from the start. However, we must protect our community and our police officers, and it is especially difficult for local governments to implement the newer state laws that are superseded by federal laws."
News 12 reached out to Jersey City's police union and are still waiting to hear back. The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission also declined to comment on the matter.