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Prior marijuana use rules 'modernized' for hopeful police officers

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Posted at 6:19 AM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-17 01:02:50-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Updated rules are coming soon for hopeful police officers that experimented with marijuana.

The Arizona Police Standards and Training Board (AZ POST) said it's not letting recruits off the hook. It's modernizing the rules that will take effect in 2021.

The current rules are:

  • Recruits couldn’t have used marijuana more than 20 times in their lifetime
  • Couldn’t have used marijuana more than 5 times after the age of 21
  • Could only have used it in specific ways (i.e. smoking versus edibles)
  • Couldn’t have used it three years prior to application

The updated rules will be:

  • No cap on prior marijuana usage at any age
  • How the drug is used does not matter
  • Couldn't have been used two years prior to application

“There are going to be people in the community that believe out we're lowering the standards [or that] we're going to get a worse caliber police officer than we've had in the past. I will argue that all day long I just don't think that's accurate we, in my opinion, we're modernizing rules to meet the societal expectations of what a police officer should be, and the life experience they have had,“ explained Matt Giordano.

Giordana said at the end of 2018 AZ POST realized it was time for a change, especially since the pre-employment drug usage rules hadn’t changed since the early 1990s.

That’s when the board partnered up with Arizona State University to send a survey out to each of the 159 law enforcement agencies in the state.

“We’re hearing anecdotally that chiefs and sheriffs are having a hard time hiring. Now we're hearing from all the heads that pre-employment drug use is very important to them and that we're losing good candidates. So, we started really taking a look at it,” said Giordano.

AZ POST sets minimum standards for agencies to follow but each agency can go above and beyond those rules.

“Is it the understanding that all of the 100 plus agencies in the state will be following these rules when they go into place in 2021," said Giordano.

The Pima County Sheriff’s department is one of those agencies.

“The Pima County Sheriff’s Department abides by the guidelines established Pima County policies, and AZ POST. This particular change to the AZ POST guidelines is set to take effect in early 2021. Over the next few months, the sheriff’s department will evaluate our current rules regarding marijuana use and ensure they fall in-line with new guidelines set forth by AZ POST.”

Currently, the Tucson Police Department is following the previous standards set.