Trending Topics

Poll call: 76% say firefighters should be allowed to use medical marijuana – just not on duty

The poll of nearly 700 FireRescue1 readers addressed opinions on medical marijuana use in states where it is already legal


Photo/Getty Images

With 37 states legalizing some form of medical marijuanaa or THC-infused CBD products, it’s not unreasonable for first responders to ask, “Does this apply to us?”

Legally, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, “meaning that it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision,” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Despite the drug’s federal status, marijuana use is rising among the general population due to its increased prevalence as states legalize it in one form or another. This begs the question: Should firefighters be allowed to use medical marijuana in states where it has been legalized?

A recent FireRescue1 poll found that 76% of respondents are in favor of allowing firefighters to use medical marijuana with the “but not while on duty” caveat, with 11% answering a blanket “Yes.” Of the nearly 700 respondents, 13% said providers should abstain from using marijuana completely.


What readers are saying

Several FireRescue1 readers offered their insights on the issue in Facebook comments:

“Treat it the same as booze. On shift no-go. Days off who cares? If you can get black out drunk why can’t you have a joint or two. Don’t over complicate it.”

“Here’s the issue … a moderate user can test positive for 7-21 days after last use. So post incident drug screen … did the FF smoke before coming on shift of 10 days ago? Do you want a surgeon operating on your loved one to be a recreational pot user? How about your kids school bus driver? Maybe the mechanic who worked on the plane you’re about to fly out on?”

“Alcohol is the gateway drug. Use marijuana responsibly.”

“For sure, the opioid problems start somewhere, usually RX.”

“30 Busch Lights the night before shift, and coming to work smelling like a brewery, and being borderline worthless is still a widely accepted practice though. Just don’t smoke pot.”

Additional resources:

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.