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Jersey City Police Union Joins Suit Over Off-Duty Pot Policy

The Jersey City, New Jersey, police officers' union has voluntarily become a defendant in the city's lawsuit over off-duty use of marijuana by members of the police force, saying some aspects of the case are not fully addressed by the other defendants.

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U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward S. Kiel on Wednesday granted the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association leave to join the state of New Jersey, Attorney General Matthew Platkin, the state Civil Service Commission and five individual police officers as defendants in the suit, which contends that state law conflicts with federal law on whether police officers can use cannabis.

"As the majority representative for all Jersey City non-supervisory police officers, the POBA has a legally cognizable interest in protecting its members' continued employment in this litigation because the outcomes could lead to the terminations of additional police officers and significant changes in POBA members' working conditions," the union said in its Jan. 12 motion to intervene as a defendant in the suit. 

The case centers on whether Jersey City police officers can legally use recreational marijuana while off duty under New Jersey's statutes that legalized cannabis. The state bars employers from firing workers for off-duty marijuana use. Jersey City contends that federal law requires police officers to possess firearms but prohibits anyone from carrying a gun if they use marijuana, which is a Schedule 1 drug.

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