Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Drug Usage For Law Enforcement Officers ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Drug Usage For Law Enforcement Officers
Category: Reference, Education and News > Job and Careers
Asked by: dablinkguy-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 26 May 2004 00:29 PDT
Expires: 25 Jun 2004 00:29 PDT
Question ID: 352059
What is the difference between an AA degree and an AS degree? What is
the requirments of the California Highway Patrol Officer regarding
marijauna usage? Would it be OK to apply if there was marijauna usage
within the last year before applying? It is the same for a regular
city police officer?

Request for Question Clarification by cath-ga on 26 May 2004 10:30 PDT
Hi dablinkguy,

I'm beginning to work on your question, and want to make sure I'm clear:
are you asking whether it's ok to have a marijuana CONVICTION in the
year prior, or just to have used the marijuana? Also, if we are talking 
about a conviction, are we talking about a felony or misdemeanor? cath-ga

Clarification of Question by dablinkguy-ga on 26 May 2004 11:07 PDT

I just mean to have used it within the last year. They use lie
detector tests to see the "frequency and recency" of illegal drug
usage. I was just wondering if it was a big deal to them if there was
usage in the last year.
Subject: Re: Drug Usage For Law Enforcement Officers
Answered By: cath-ga on 26 May 2004 15:33 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear dablinkguy,

Thanks for your very interesting question!

For the California Highway Patrol, I?m afraid the use of marijuana in 
the past year IS a problem.

The CHP Conduct Requirements state that the candidate may have 
no felony convictions, and must have ?good personal conduct.? The good 
personal conduct is ascertained in an oral interview and in a
background investigation. As you mentioned, in the interview and in
the background investigation they will ask you questions and look into
the recency and
frequency of illegal drug use, and arrests and felony convictions.

I spoke with an officer in the Background Investigation section of the
CHP in Sacramento. He told me that if you have had any marijuana
USAGE in the last year that WOULD automatically disqualify you.
However, if the usage hasn?t occurred for 3 or 4 years, it would be
safe to apply. By, the way, I asked if lie-detector tests are used to
see if you are lying during the interview. He said no, but that they do
use ?computer voice stress analysis? to detect whether the applicant
is stressed and possibly lying about particular questions. And, of
course, they do independent investigation to see if you?re truthful.

This answer is moot right now, because there is a hiring freeze
for new cadets, due to the state of California?s budget problems.
It is unclear right now when the freeze will come off, no one really

If you have any further CHP questions you want to ask, the phone number 
for the Cadet Hiring Unit is:
(916) 375-2180, 8-5 Pacific time. 

Education minimum requirements for the CHP candidate are high school 
diploma or GED. It is also ?highly desirable? that the candidate have an 
Associate of Arts degree or higher. For the AA degree, the number of 
liberal arts courses is greater.  An AS degree is an Associate of Science 
degree. This degree requires a greater number of science classes.
The officer I spoke with said that to become a patrol officer, the 
minimum requirement is enough. Only when you are looking for 
promotions do the higher degrees come into play.

Qualifications for a CHP Officer are listed at:

I checked with the Los Angeles Police Department Recruitment Office for 
the same information. They are actually hiring 400 people this year, more 
than any other police force on the West Coast.

The officer I spoke to told me that marijuana use would not necessarily
be an AUTOMATIC disqualifier, but it reflects on your maturity and 
respect for the law, and would hurt you. At another point in the 
conversation, he said that if you want to be a police officer, drug use 
is ?the kiss of death.?  He said if you stay clean for another year or 
two before applying, that would help.

The lengthy LAPD testing and interviewing process is detailed on this 

The LAPD does use the polygraph in its interviews of candidates.
The polygraph exam is apparently 3 hours long!

The education requirement for LAPD is, like the CHP, a high school 
education or GED.  Higher degrees, such as the AA or BA would give you
a higher salary. 

The site to look at for requirements for the LAPD position is:

I also checked with the Humboldt County Personnel Department,
to see if that (notoriously) tolerant area might be more lenient.

The woman in the personnel department said they are not recruiting
for Sheriff?s deputies right now, but that marijuana use in the last
year would be ?an issue, that is pretty recent.? She thought that
marijuana use that recently would be an issue with just about any
law enforcement agency, perhaps with some variation.

Humboldt County employment information can be found at:
Job Line at (707) 476-2357.

I also checked the San Francisco Sheriff?s Dept for their policies at:

On the ?Selection Procedures? page, they state pretty baldly:

?Any indication of controlled substance use will be cause for 


In my research I came across a number of Police Academy courses
offered at community and city colleges. Some of these are:

Contra Costa Community College.  
Graduation from this program prepares you to work as a ?police reserve? 
officer, or with the county probation or juvenile hall.

The screening questions for this course ask  ?Are you addicted to 
alcohol, narcotics, or any dangerous drugs?,? which you could probably
answer correctly.

Other colleges which also offer police academies are:

Fresno City College

Palomar College

Fullerton College

And you can find others by Googling ?community college + police academy+

The above Police Officer Standards & Training (POST) certified courses
MIGHT help you get a job with a smaller police department that doesn?t 
have its own academy. However, you'd have to pay for the course, and 
with the large police departments, you?d still have to go through
their training program. In either case, you?d probably have to have
clean from drugs for a couple of years before being hired.

I could check with hundreds of municipalities throughout the state
as to whether your drug use would automatically disqualify you.
But the bottom line is, even if it doesn?t disqualify you, it will 
hurt you. If you are competing with a good candidate without any 
drug use, you would probably lose out.

My suggestion would be, if you are serious about becoming a peace 
officer, stay off drugs completely for the next two years. During 
that time,get your AA or the most education you can get- computer 
skills and a second language will help you too. Then, when you can 
honestly answer ?no drug use!? you will be in a strong position to be 
hired by the large city or county officer training academies. 
These academies pay well while you are training, and you have a 
guaranteed job when you graduate.

I hope this answers your question. If there is anything unclear 
or incomplete, don?t hesitate to hit the ?Clarify Answer? button before
rating my work.

Good luck in your career!

search strategy:

on Google:

California Highway Patrol
Los Angeles Police Dept.
Humboldt County Sheriff Dept.
San Francisco Police Dept.
community colleges + California
community college + police academy
dablinkguy-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Great Detailed Answer! Thanks!

Subject: Re: Drug Usage For Law Enforcement Officers
From: gabe399-ga on 12 Oct 2004 11:25 PDT
very good descriptions. i got more info threw this message than any
other site so far. its very well scripted. i want to become a deputy
sheriff officer myself and need the most information possible.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy