Weed laws have changed a lot in the united states over the last few years. As of writing this article, Cannabis use is medically legal in 33 states and recreationally legal in 17 states. But does that apply to everyone? Are firefighters allowed to smoke or use weed?
Firefighters are not allowed to smoke weed on or off duty, even in states where it is legal. Since weed is classified as illegal by the federal government, its use could be a justifiable reason to terminate a firefighter. This may or may not change in the future.
To better understand the issues with weed and THC products being used by firefighters, keep reading. We will also discuss whether firefighters are allowed to use cigarettes, cigars, CBD oil, vape, and other tobacco products, as well as some anti-tobacco policies.
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Also read: Can You Be a Firefighter with Past Drug Use?
Can Firefighters Smoke Weed?
Firefighters are not allowed to smoke weed on or off duty, even in states where it is legal. Since weed is classified as illegal by the federal government, its use could be a justifiable reason to terminate a firefighter.
It is very clear that any firefighter under the influence of THC (weed) while at work, is unacceptable and a fireable offense. However, as weed becomes legal in many states for medicinal and recreational use, people assume that anyone in these legal states are allowed to use it. But that may not be the case.
Though the federal laws regarding weed use may change, they can still affect who is and who isn’t allowed to use it, since it is a controlled substance.
Another factor to consider is the fact that the legalization laws in many states specifically state that employers can still restrict its use for their employees.
“Many of these states even go out of their way to state that they will not infringe upon an employer’s right to continue screening for drugs with the use of a drug test. Because a majority of state courts have ruled with the employer and have held that employers can fire employees for off-duty weed use, regardless of whether it is medical or recreational.”California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group – https://www.losangelesemploymentattorney.org
Some people say that firefighters should be able to use weed while not at work, the same way alcohol is allowed off duty but not while working.
What makes this perspective a challenge is the testing process.
While testing for alcohol can accurately reveal the level of intoxication, THC testing can stay in your system for much longer and doesn’t necessarily correlate with the user’s current intoxication level. Though this may change, as many are working on a way to accurately measure THC impairment.
As of right now, while all these policies are in flux, it is most likely in all firefighter’s best interest to not use any type of weed products while on or off duty.
Will firefighters ever be able to smoke weed? Because of its (THC) mind-altering effects, firefighters will almost certainly never be allowed to use weed while at work, much the same as alcohol is legal but its use is prohibited while on duty.
As weed use becomes legal in some areas, whether or not firefighters will be allowed to use it while off duty remains to be seen. Once better impairment testing is discovered, off duty use could possibly be permitted.
Also read: Can Firefighters Have Tattoos? It Depends…
Can I Be a Firefighter if I Smoked Weed?
You can probably still be a firefighter is you smoked weed in the past. What effect your weed use will have on your ability to become a firefighter mainly depends on the length of time since you last used it, as well as how frequently.
Many people wonder if using weed will prevent them from becoming a firefighter. Some of these guidelines are changing as using weed is being legalized in some states.
If you are currently using weed, even in the states where it is legal, you will most likely not pass the drug testing and not be hired as a firefighter. However, if your use was in the past, you can possibly become a firefighter.
For more information on this, read: Do Firefighters Get Drug Tested? How and When
Here is a Battalion Chief talking about weed being legalized and its effect on firefighters:
Can Firefighters Use CBD Oil?
Firefighters can use CBD as long as it isn’t expressly prohibited by their department, city, or union. The majority of fire departments don’t have a rule against CBD, they just require you to pass a THC drug test. Firefighters must only use CBD isolate products as other types of CBD can contain THC.
CBD Oil has shown to be beneficial for many things, but are you allowed to use CBD as a firefighter? Firefighters must use only isolate CBD products, with no THC. Full-spectrum CBD products contain small amounts of THC.
According to projectcbd.org, cannabidiol (CBD) is a safe, non-addictive substance found in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD does not have an intoxicating or psychoactive effect on its user.
CBD has shown to be beneficial for a variety of issues. Healthline.com states it can be used for:
- Pain relief
- Anxiety and stress reduction
- Reducing acne
- Heart health
- and a variety of other uses
Best CBD Products for Firefighters
Omnia Naturals is a company, started by two firefighters, that sells CBD products. Their site has a ton of great information about firefighters and CBD use. For more information, read: CBD and Firefighters
For any firefighters that want to get better sleep and help manage their stress, Rescue 1 CBD Isolate (0.00% THC) from Omnia Naturals will do the trick!
It even includes at home drug tests, so you can feel confident that it is just CBD and it won’t get you in trouble.
For pain relief, their Rescue 1 Topical, Roll-on CBD is what you want.
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Can Firefighters Smoke Cigarettes or Cigars?
Firefighters are able to smoke tobacco in some areas, however, many states and fire departments have put no tobacco policies in place. This means that firefighters at these employers are not allowed to use any tobacco products (on or off duty) while they are employed.
For years, it was considered common to see firefighters smoking. Most firehouses were filled with cigarette smoke. It was considered normal for firefighters to sit on the tailboard of the engine and have a cigarette after a fire or even sit in front of the station smoking cigars in the evening.
Those times have changed. As the health risks of smoking came to light, policies have changed and there are many fewer firefighters who smoke these days (though still some). Firefighters are no longer allowed to smoke in the fire stations due to second-hand smoke and it’s effect on others.
Along with this, many states and departments have passed policies prohibiting tobacco use. These policies can vary in specifics from one department to another.
Here is an example of one such policy from the Fire Service Joint Labor Management Wellness Fitness Initiative:
“All new fire department candidates shall be tobacco-free upon appointment and throughout their length of service to the department.
Current fire department uniformed personnel shall not use tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, and/or chewing tobacco) inside the work-site, within or on fire department apparatus, or inside training facilities.“National Center for Biotechnology Information- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5858201/
So, as a firefighter, your ability to smoke cigarettes or cigars will be dictated by where you get hired and what policies, if any, they have on tobacco use. And don’t think you can get away with it. If your department has a no tobacco policy and you are found in violation, they can fire you. Here is an example of exactly that happening to a firefighter in Massachusetts.
Among wanting a healthier workforce, one of the main reasons for these types of policies is related to presumptive illness. There are certain conditions, like lung cancer, that are seen more often in firefighters than the general public. This is thought to be a direct result of the exposures and other dangers associated with being a firefighter.
For this reason, when a firefighter gets something like lung cancer, it is presumed (presumptive) to be caused by on the job exposures. However, if they are also a smoker, it gets difficult to determine the cause of the illness.
This makes insurance and workman’s compensation more challenging for that firefighter. The fire department wants to avoid this confusion, as well as not pay for ailments that weren’t caused by on the job exposures.
Can Firefighters Use Tobacco or Dip?
Firefighters may be allowed to use smokeless tobacco products or dip in some areas. However, this depends on each fire department. Many no-tobacco policies will include the use of all tobacco and prohibit their use by firefighters.
Smokeless tobacco products (chewing, dip, snuff, snus, dissolvable) are seen as less dangerous to your health because they aren’t directly linked to lung cancer, but they still can cause other cancers and health issues. Smokeless tobacco is not uncommon in the fire service (approx 13% of male US firefighters).
Can Firefighters Vape (JUUL)?
Whether or not firefighters can vape or use e-cigarettes will vary. Most fire departments will prohibit their use while on duty. Some fire departments may include vaping in their anti-tobacco policy and will not allow their use (on or off duty) by any employees.
Vaping is a newer technology that is becoming very popular. Vaping refers to inhaling the vapor produced by an e-cigarette or other similar device. These can contain nicotine, but also can be used to consume (THC) marijuana, CBD or other drugs.
Here is an example of one such smoking and tobacco use policy from Greenfield Fire District.
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