Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Can Police Officers and Firefighters Use Medical Marijuana Off-Duty?

We have discussed how the new recreational marijuana law allows municipalities to prohibit police officers and firefighters from using recreational marijuana off duty. But what about medical marijuana? Can police officers and firefighters use medical marijuana off-duty?

No. The medical marijuana law explicitly prohibits police officers and firefighters from using medical marijuana at any time, on or off duty. The law states:
“This Act does not permit any person to engage in, and does not prevent the imposition of any civil, criminal, or other penalties for engaging in, the following conduct…The use of medical cannabis by an active duty law enforcement officer, correctional officer, correctional probation officer, or firefighter.” 410 ILCS 130/30(a)(9).
Municipalities do not have to prohibit their police officers and firefighters from using recreational cannabis off duty. So, Illinois law sets up a rather odd situation where a police officer or firefighter can use recreational cannabis off-duty but cannot use medical cannabis off-duty.

One might say that this is a moot point: if a police officer or firefighter needs cannabis for a medical condition, then he or she can go to the dispensary and purchase some cannabis. But actually, it is not. Medical cannabis users receive cannabis cheaper than recreational users since they do not have to pay the same taxes that recreational users must pay. And medical users can grow up to five cannabis plants in their homes.

It will be interesting to see if the General Assembly fixes this anomaly in the law in its Spring legislative session. There will likely be amendments to both the recreational cannabis law and the medical cannabis law, and we will keep you updated on those. Also, if you haven’t done so, contact us to update your personnel policies so that they are in compliance with the changes to the cannabis laws.