Having smoked weed in the past will no longer be a deterrent for joining the Atlanta Police Force. The checkbox asking if applicants have consumed cannabis within the past two years will be removed from the police department’s application sheet. The department authorities have stated that dismissing applicants for past marijuana use has made them lost too many potentially good candidates.
Adapting to Cannabis’ Public Acceptance
Carlos Campos, spokesperson for the APD said in an interview with a local TV news station:
“It’s just that attitudes and cultural norms are changing toward marijuana use”. However, the representative emphasized that no officer in the force is allowed to consume cannabis once they’re accepted: “You cannot smoke marijuana if you’re an Atlanta police officer. Period. End of story”.
The city of Atlanta has an authorized police force of 2,000 officers. As of now, there 350 vacancies to fill. Campos has stated that the number of police agents has been in decline for the last five years, which called for the need to develop new policies that allow the city to recover the force to its full.
Before the measure, admitting to using marijuana within the past two years would’ve been an immediate turndown. Police Chief Erika Shields commented on the decision:
“We have to be practical about this and that’s the change we made and hopefully we’ll see it offset some of the numbers”.
To compensate for the measure, Campos stated that the department will increase random drug testing to current officers, as a way to ensure compliance with the law.
Hoping for Better Numbers
The State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta have been increasing the number of policies related to cannabis legalization in the past few years. In 2017, the city voted to decrease the penalties associated with marijuana possession. The state already allows for patients to use low-THC oil for medical purposes, and lawmakers are currently considering opening up the game for in-state production for the medical market.
Since the end of February, 135 new aspirants applied to join the force. 39 of them (almost 30%) were suspended from the application. Of the overall number of rejected applicants, 15 were ruled out for drug use, out of which, 5 had only admitted to marijuana use.
Spokesperson Carlos Campos said to another news channel:
“Given the reality of this landscape, the Atlanta Police Department is increasingly encountering young applicants who are admitting to marijuana use, a question we have traditionally used to screen potential officers. The result is that we are eliminating candidates who are otherwise qualified to become police officers.”