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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 202305 Find in a Library
Title: Departmental Divergences on Marijuana Use and New Recruits
Journal: Law and Order  Volume:51  Issue:9  Dated:September 2003  Pages:80-84
Author(s): Arthur Sharp
Date Published: September 2003
Page Count: 5
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis; Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reports on a recent survey of 33 randomly selected police agencies across the country regarding their hiring criteria for applicants who have used marijuana.
Abstract: Thirty-five percent of the responding departments indicated they do not reject outright candidates who have smoked marijuana. The other 65 percent reported that they do reject such candidates under certain circumstances; these circumstances vary from agency to agency. The circumstances typically focus on the frequency and recency of marijuana use. Specifications regarding the number of times marijuana has been used and the length of time between last use and the current date will vary from agency to agency. Chief Mike Matulavich of Akron, Ohio, indicated in an interview for this article that it is becoming more difficult for agencies to recruit people who have not tried marijuana at some point in their lives; 57 percent of the respondents confirmed this perception. Some respondents reported allowing for experimentation with marijuana during teen or college years, but disqualify candidates who have engaged in recent use. Some departments with strict standards base their policy in the belief that a person who has violated any drug law shows a lack of respect for the law and the discipline to comply with it. The problem with such a view, however, is that laws regarding marijuana use and possession vary among jurisdictions. Forty-eight percent of the respondents reported that they take into account studies that show chronic use of marijuana impairs night vision. It is evident from the responses to the survey that there is no consensus among administrators regarding standard criteria for applicants' marijuana use. The majority of the responding agencies do not plan on changing their policies, but they are amenable to new approaches. The author advises that to ban applicants without the benefit of a doubt regarding their marijuana use would be counterproductive and limit the pool of applicants, many of whom could have successful law enforcement careers regardless of past questionable behaviors regarding marijuana use.
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Drug use; Marijuana; Police management; Police personnel selection
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