PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh police officer who tested positive for medical marijuana earlier this year remains on paid administrative leave, even though the state has said they won't certify officers who use medical marijuana because federal law prohibits them from possessing a firearm.
Mayor Bill Peduto said the law department is still reviewing the case.
"We have several city employees who are prescribed marijuana for medicinal purposes. It is different though with police because with police that there's a very strict law which prohibits the use of marijuana for any police officer in the state of Pennsylvania," Peduto said.
City firefighters, medics and other employees are allowed to use medical marijuana if they have a doctor's prescription. It's treated like alcohol -- if they show up to work high, they face disciplinary action.
But Beth Pittinger, the executive of the Citizens Police Review Boar, raised a red flag.
"Until we better understand the complete role of medical marijuana and it's potential psycho active influence on people, how would you determine if there was an excess," Pittinger said.
The police officers union said, "We are aware of the situation but because it falls under HIPAA, or health privacy laws, we believe it’s not right to comment. It’s unfortunate that someone violated the law by going to the media."
While declining to address specifics involving the officer in question, the union president called out the state agency that certifies municipal police officers saying they issued an order that conflicts with the state law legalizing medical marijuana.
The major, who joined the governor and the attorney general recently in support of legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults, believes that may ultimately force the state to reexamine their ban on police officers.
"I will allow the state to do it's due diligence on it, but if we make marijuana into the same classification as alcohol, it should basically be looked at under that same lens," Peduto said.
Channel 11's Rick Earle reached out to the state agency that certifies police officers, but he has not heard back.
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