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Benton police changing restrictions on marijuana use

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Benton, Arkansas – When it’s comes to becoming a police officer, there’s a strict set of criteria involved.

Police departments are no exception as hiring woes have made it harder to fill spots. “Whether it’s law enforcement or restaurants or just anywhere. It’s tough,” Lt. Jackson said.

Despite the department being down to 10 officers, there are only 7 applicants for this current round. That’s why they’re making a change to their policy, specifically when it comes to marijuana use.

In the past, using marijuana at any point in a three-year window would disqualify applicants from consideration. Furthermore, any marijuana that falls between three to six years ago, would be viewed on a case-by-case basis.

New rules approved Wednesday reduce the three-year window to two years instead the case-by-case basis is now evaluated if use falls between two to six years. “There are medicinal benefits for marijuana. If you’re able to benefit from that, that’s good, but obviously, with us, we have to be a little more strict on how that’s done,” Lt. Jackson said.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act bans discrimination against cardholders, but this criteria is an exception.
According to the department, they’re able to enforce this since they work in a “safety-sensitive position.”

“That’s the important thing is whenever you’re applying for these sensitive positions is being honest and truthful with that,” Lt. Jackson said.

According to Lt. Jackson, they’re so strict because marijuana use can impair you for much longer than you might be aware of.

“Marijuana’s effects on attention, memory, and learning may last a long time or even be permanent, but more research is needed to fully understand those effects,” according to the CDC.

This may be a minor change to department policy, but Lt. Jackson said it’s a start. It could have an immediate impact, and give them more candidates they need. “To increase the numbers that are actually testing with us, you have a greater chance of getting a good applicant,” Lt. Jackson said. “That’s what all agencies are wanting.”

 

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