AK: Thinking About Moonlighting In Marijuana? You Can't If You're A Cop

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Ron Strider

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The marijuana industry is off limits to Alaska law enforcement officers, says the state council that oversees police.
The Alaska Police Standards Council wrote Thursday that all marijuana conduct is "incompatible with the law enforcement profession."

The decision was made at a May 3 meeting, after executive director Bob Griffiths asked for guidance.

"We kind of got word that there might be individuals that were considering that as an option for a second career, so to speak," Griffiths said, specifically marijuana shops and cultivation facilities. "So we thought it'd be a good idea to be proactive."

Alaska legalized recreational marijuana in November 2014, and marijuana shops have been open since October.

But under Alaska statute, law enforcement officials are prohibited from using or possessing marijuana. They can't transport it or manufacture it, either.

State law also speaks to the "moral character" of an officer, Griffiths said.

"Moral character" means common sense, respect for others and respect for the law — including federal law, under which marijuana remains a schedule I controlled substance, Griffiths said.

It's the council's direction to me that they find anyone engaging in [a marijuana business] would lack good moral character," Griffiths said.

If an officer owned a bar or liquor store, it wouldn't be equivalent, because that doesn't violate federal law, Griffiths said.

Of the nine law enforcement officials who have lost their certifications due to drug-related conduct in the council's 45-year history, about half were due to alcohol abuse, Griffiths said. At least one person lost certification due to marijuana misconduct, but he said he didn't know the specifics of all the cases.

The council's decision covers police, corrections officers and probation and patrol officers, and municipal corrections officers.

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