The state’s second biggest city has gone to federal court in a bid to keep police officers who use cannabis off duty from returning to its police force.

In an 18-page complaint filed Monday, Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea argues that because federal law prevents anyone who uses a controlled substance like cannabis from possessing a firearm, Jersey City cannot employ police officers who use legal cannabis.

The lawsuit sets up a battle between defendants New Jersey and Attorney General Matt Platkin — who have told law enforcement officials that they must allow officers to use cannabis off duty — and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2025.

Fulop is expected to speak about the lawsuit at a press conference Tuesday morning.

“There is no way to confirm whether Cannabis was used an hour, a day, or week before a shift and it will take one questionable judgement call by a police officer that tests positive that will expose the city to massive liability. No city in NJ has been more supportive of Cannabis overall but we should have common sense as well,” Fulop posted on social media Monday.

The lawsuit comes more than two months after the state Civil Service Commission decided that Jersey City must rehire a police officer it had fired after she tested positive for cannabis. Three other officers fired for the same reason have also challenged their terminations.

The commission argued that nothing in the state’s legalization law — known as the CREAMM Act — requires anyone to violate federal law, but Jersey City’s lawsuit says otherwise.

“Its determination and interpretation of the CREAMM Act does exactly that — the City of Jersey City and its personnel are required to violate federal law because they would be required, at a minimum, to provide ammunition to officers who they know are users of cannabis in violation” of federal law, the complaint says.

Republished courtesy of New Jersey Monitor, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Jersey Monitor maintains editorial independence. Follow New Jersey Monitor on Facebook and Twitter.

New Jersey Monitor Editor Terrence T. McDonald is a native New Jerseyan who has worked for newspapers in the Garden State for more than 15 years. He has covered everything from Trenton politics to the...