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What Drugs Disqualify You from Being a Police Officer

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Past Drug Use and Becoming a Police Officer in the NYPD

It is common for people that are applying to become police officers to wonder if their past drug use will impact their application and chances of achieving their dream career. While experimenting with drugs is commonplace within most areas of society, police officers – especially those within the NYPD – are required to be relatively “clean.” While recent laws have been passed in the United States that led to the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana, many police departments, including the NYPD, have not become more lenient on prior drug use. However, there is some additional and important information to learn, which is detailed further below. Below, Robert. B Kronenberg, Esq., an experienced NYPD disqualification appeal lawyer, explores the topic in further detail. 

Does Smoking Weed Disqualify You From Being a Police Officer in the NYPD? 

Smoking marijuana is considered consuming a “soft” drug, so there may be some leeway during the application process. Leniency depends on other factors such as the frequency of use and how long ago it occurred. During the application process, candidates are most likely to undergo a series of interviews and background checks that explore their character, and this could touch on past drug use. If you have previously used marijuana in your life and consider your use to be purely light and experimental, you must disclose this early in the application process. If you try to cover any past experiences with marijuana you had, it may reflect poorly on your application and your character than if you were upfront about it. If you have been disqualified from the NYPD because of issues with your character, you will need to undergo an NYPD character disqualification appeal process under the direction of an experienced lawyer like Robert B. Kronenberg, Esq. Needless to say, once hired, the NYPD drug use policy bans officers from using illegal drugs like marijuana. Also, police officers are banned from selling, trading, or selling alcohol and other drugs. 

Can You Smoke as a Police Officer in the NYPD? 

As for smoking tobacco and cigarettes, NYPD police officers are not allowed to smoke cigarettes in public and in uniform. However, since tobacco is not illegal, they can partake in private as long as they are not in uniform. NYPD officers are encouraged to quit smoking as it could present a health hazard. If they are an applicant, smoking could interfere with their physical exam. If an applicant has underperformed in a physical examination, they are subject to a physical disqualification. If you have been disqualified based on a physical examination, you will need to undergo the NYPD medical disqualification appeal process. 

What Is the NYPD Drug Test for Applicants?

The NYPD drug testing process for applicants is a stringent procedure designed to ensure the integrity and reliability of individuals joining the police force. Prospective NYPD officers are required to undergo a thorough drug screening as part of the pre-employment background check. This drug test typically involves the analysis of urine samples to detect the presence of controlled substances. The NYPD maintains a strict zero-tolerance policy for drug use among its officers, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a drug-free work environment to uphold public trust and ensure the safety of both officers and the communities they serve. Applicants must be prepared to provide a urine sample during the testing process, and any indication of illicit substance use can result in disqualification from the recruitment process.

What Drugs Disqualify You From Being a Police Officer?

There are many drugs that disqualify candidates from being a police officer. The specific drugs that can disqualify candidates from becoming police officers can vary by department, but there are some common trends across law enforcement agencies. Generally, the use of illegal drugs or the misuse of prescription medications can lead to disqualification. Common drugs that often result in disqualification include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, ecstasy, and hallucinogens.

Is Admitting Drug Use on a Police Application a Good Idea?

Admitting drug use on a police application is generally not advisable. Law enforcement agencies, including the NYPD, typically have stringent standards regarding drug use, and acknowledging past drug use can potentially jeopardize a candidate’s application. Most police departments prioritize candidates who demonstrate a history of responsible decision-making and adherence to the law. While policies may vary, in many cases, honesty about past drug use might lead to disqualification. It’s crucial for applicants to thoroughly review the specific drug-related criteria outlined by the police department they are applying to and consider seeking legal advice if they have concerns about their eligibility based on past drug use. 

Can You Be a Police Officer With Anxiety Medications? 

Our police disqualification lawyer would like to point out that learning about drugs that disqualify you from being a police officer could lead many to believe that their anxiety medications may be not allowed by the NYPD. Many police departments, including the NYPD, assess medical conditions and medications on a case-by-case basis. While anxiety medications may not automatically disqualify an individual, it is crucial for candidates to provide comprehensive information about their medical history during the application process.


Law enforcement agencies typically prioritize candidates who can perform the essential duties of the job effectively and safely. If an applicant is taking anxiety medications, the agency may consider factors such as the nature and severity of the anxiety disorder, the effectiveness of the medication, and the ability of the individual to manage stress in a high-pressure environment. This may reflect negatively on the character of a candidate, leading to a character disqualification. 

More About NYPD Disqualifications Appeals

Aside from giving our readers useful guides on the intricacies of past drug use and becoming a police officer, we also provide superb legal services to our clients. The offices of Robert B. Kronenberg and Disqualification Appeals helps applicants for the NYPD and other New York departments fight their disqualification so they can get their careers on track. Contact us today to learn more about our medical disqualification appeals, psychological disqualification appeals, and character disqualification appeals. 

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The NYPD Disqualification Process

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