SANDY, Utah — The body that certifies and disciplines all police officers in the state is deliberating whether they should be allowed to use medical cannabis.
“This is kind of a difficult topic to navigate,” Major Scott Stephenson, the director of Utah’s Peace Officer Standards & Training, said Tuesday.
In a briefing to the POST Council, a group made up of law enforcement, academic and citizen representatives, Major Stephenson said Utah’s police academies are facing increased inquiries about cannabis.
“While it’s legal in the state of Utah, it’s federally illegal,” he said.
People have expressed interest in signing up to be a police officer, “‘however, I’m taking medical marijuana or I have used in another jurisdiction where it’s legal like Colorado or Nevada,'” Major Stephenson said of the comments he’s heard.
Medical cannabis has been legal in Utah since voters approved it in 2018. The legislature has said it should be treated the same as any other controlled substance. But there are difficulties with police officers using it.
The closest POST’s present policy allows is for no cannabis at least one year before an officer applies for a job. Right now, there is a hard line: an officer with a firearm cannot use marijuana because of federal laws.
But POST is exploring whether a corrections officer who doesn’t carry a gun could use or have used cannabis in the past. It prompted a healthy debate among members of the council.
“I can’t believe I’m stepping up and saying this because I totally supported not having medical marijuana in the state of Utah years ago,” said Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel, who suggested the council consider changing its policy to allow for people to seek jobs in law enforcement.
He pointed out that a lot of officers get back injuries on the job and are