SANDY, Utah — The agency that certifies and disciplines police officers in Utah will no longer put a waiting limit on cadets who apply to be emergency dispatchers if they've used marijuana in a place where it's legal.
But cadets who want to become gun-carrying officers will still have to wait at least a year from the last time they used.
The Utah Peace Officer Standards & Training Council voted on those changes Thursday, recognizing the difficulty in hiring people and the fact that our state is becoming surrounded by cannabis friendly places. But once they are certified, cannabis use remains forbidden.
It sparked a debate among members of the council about whether medical cannabis should count.
"As this becomes more prevalent, people choose it for pain over opiates, frankly, in my opinion, it’s a better choice," said Draper Mayor Troy Walker, who serves on the council.
But Davis County Sheriff Kelly Sparks said the overall issue was "more about their obedience to the law."
Currently, POST draws a line in the sand for police officers and cadets on medical cannabis (which is legal in Utah) because the agency looks to federal firearms laws. The Utah State Legislature has repeatedly said it intended medical cannabis to be treated like any other prescription drug — it's illegal to use while high, but it should not be a barrier to employment. More legislation may be coming to clarify medical cannabis use for first responders.
The council voted to accept the new policy for emergency dispatchers, who do not carry guns.