You might be surprised to hear this, but New Orleans has relaxed its marijuana policy for city employees, including first responders. In the past, any city employee who had marijuana in their system would be fired. Now, that won’t be the case.
“It is still new ground for local and state government that we’re trying to tread through,” said Gilbert Montano, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer. Montano said updating a portion of the CAO policy on marijuana is a first for the city. According to Montano, since marijuana use has been decriminalized in the city, the CAO policy has been updated to reflect that change. “Before, if you had any amount of cannabis in your system, you were automatically fired, but that’s no longer the case,” Montano said.
Montano said one of the reasons they made this policy change was to recruit more people for the police department. “If I’m going to be direct and frank, that was a barrier,” Montano said. “We heard it directly from our NOPD staff that their past usage of marijuana was an inhibitor for their future employment progress.”
There will still be random drug tests and disciplinary action taken against violators; however, those details are still being worked out by the Civil Service Commission. “There will be a nuance to that, whether it’s a prescription or nonprescription, recreational or nonrecreational use,” Montano said.
Montano said he trusts that employees who protect and serve will be mindful and responsible. “You can’t come to work drunk.” “If you do, you’re going to get disciplined,” Montano said. “It’s going to be similar to marijuana usage.” “I’m hoping they don’t come in drunk, and I’m hoping they don’t come in high.”
The city of New Orleans is setting an example for other cities on how to approach marijuana policy changes, especially when it comes to the recruitment of police officers. By making the marijuana policy less strict, police departments across the country may have more people to choose from who might not have been eligible before because they had used marijuana.
The lesson here is that other cities should look at the example New Orleans is setting and consider revising their own policies to allow for a more lenient approach to marijuana use among city employees. This can help make sure that these jobs are filled by the most qualified people, no matter what mistakes they may have made in the past with cannabis.
As Montano said himself, “It’s important that we make sure we’re not putting artificial barriers in place, so we can be as inclusive as possible.” With this policy, New Orleans can get a lot more of the best and brightest people who have the skills and knowledge it needs to be successful in applying. This could mean more jobs for those who use cannabis medicinally and are qualified for the positions.
Kim, S. (2022, November 18). New Orleans will no longer terminate employees over marijuana use. WDSU. Retrieved November 20, 2022, from https://www.wdsu.com/article/new-orleans-marijuana-termination-city-employees/42003939