How should police departments treat aspiring cops who admit to using or test positive for CBD (cannabidiol), the active ingredient in cannabis known for its soothing qualities?
CBD, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is not psychoactive. Read: It does not get you high.
Nevertheless, the board that regulates police certifications in Arizona has historically regarded the use of over-the-counter CBD products — such as balms for aches and pains — the same as pot you'd find in a medical marijuana dispensary.
Until last month.
On June 19, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST) issued a statement clarifying that it "does not view the use or possession of over-the-counter products containing CBD as constituting the illegal use or possession of marijuana, a dangerous drug, or a narcotic drug."
Matt Giordano, the executive director of AZPOST, said CBD has been widely discussed since he started his job in 2018. In a memo explaining the policy directive, Giordano said would-be officers using CBD products aren't trying to get blitzed.
"Police agencies have seen an increase in the number of applicants that have disclosed the use of products containing CBD during their backgrounds," he said. "What we are finding is someone who might rub a product containing CBD oil on their elbow or knee before going out for a run."
CBD products containing more than .3 percent THC that were purchased at a dispensary would not fall under the exemption. AZ POST will continue to prohibit medical marijuana products above that threshold.
It's the same amount of THC allowable under a 2018 Farm Bill signed by President Donald Trump, which effectively legalized hemp production and led to the proliferation of over-the-counter CBD products, from gummies to lotion to dog treats.
In an email, Giordano said his office could not locate any cases in which a cop was denied certification for CBD use.
Haziness over CBD has also raised questions on the other side of law enforcement in Arizona. In October, Phoenix New Times published a report revealing that the Yavapai County Attorney's Office charged two people with marijuana possession in 2017 for having CBD oil.
One of those charged, Robert Stapleton, tried to explain to the Prescott Valley officer who pulled him over how the CBD vape pen in his car was different than a product containing a higher concentration of THC.
The officer phoned a deputy attorney and asked how he should handle the case.
"Treat the CBD as marijuana instead of a narcotic," the prosecutor told the cop.