Atlanta police will no longer ask about marijuana use on applications

ATLANTA — Smoking weed will no longer immediately end your chances of becoming an Atlanta police officer.

The Atlanta Police Department said it lost too many qualified candidates when they asked if the person used marijuana in the past two years. So, the department is doing away with that box to check on the application.

The results, they believe, will be more qualified applicants in a very competitive field.

“You cannot smoke marijuana if you’re an Atlanta police officer. Period. End of story,” APD spokesperson Carlos Campos said.

Campos made the rules regarding drugs crystal clear. Drug use is not acceptable, but in order to recruit, where an applicant would’ve been weeded out with marijuana use in the past two years, APD no longer holds that against a person.

“It’s just that attitudes and cultural norms are changing toward marijuana use,” Campos said.

With marijuana use legal now in 33 states, Georgia’s Department of Public Safety is changing its process.


Tuesday, police Chief Erika Shields addressed the topic in the public safety committee report.

“We have to be practical about this and that’s the change we made and hopefully we’ll see it offset some of the numbers,” Shields said.

Since end of February this year, 135 people were interviewed in four job fairs. Ninety-six were found to be eligible applicants. Thirty-nine were suspended from the application process. Of those thirty-nine, ten were suspended because of drug use other than marijuana and five for marijuana use.

“We’re not concerned so much that you used marijuana in the past, but you cannot work here as a police officer and use it. That’s just not gonna happen,” Campos said.

The department said an improved economy is making things more challenging, whereas recruitment was easier in the economic downturn a decade ago.

APD said it will step up its random, targeted drug testing because of this procedural change.