A Lafayette Police officer will get his job back after he failed drug screening, the Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service Board ruled.
Officer Bernard Anderson was fired in June for violating Lafayette Consolidated Government’s illicit drug policy after his screening showed he tested positive for marijuana metabolite.
He told Internal Affairs investigators he was taking a CBD supplement as a sleep aid and never ingested marijuana.
Because marijuana immediately begins to break down in the body, some drug labs choose to test for marijuana metabolite, which stays in the system longer and is specific to traditional marijuana, a doctor testified before the board.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is derived from hemp plants, which are the same species as marijuana but contain virtually none of the psychoactive compounds that get people high. To be legal in Louisiana, CBD must contain less than 0.3% of THC.
The board voted 3-1 to give Anderson his job back with pay.
“I find that the lack of progress in testing and the technology that is available in something as innocent as sleep drops,” board member Christina Olivier said, “that the city did not act in good faith and just cause.”
Mickey Broussard was the one dissenting vote, arguing Anderson violated the city’s drug policy.
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Michael Corry, the attorney representing the police department and LCG, argued Anderson violated the city’s zero-tolerance drug policy when his test came back positive.
Anderson’s attorney, Allyson Prejean, argued that because there is no specific policy for CBD and the test could not determine whether the positive test was attributed to CBD or marijuana, Anderson should get his job back.
Anderson was involved in an on-duty car accident on Dec 24, 2020, and, per department policy, had to take a drug test. The test came back positive for marijuana metabolite, Dr. Paul Bergeron testified. Anderson asked for a retest and the marijuana metabolite was still there.
Bergeron said in some cases, consistent CBD use could lead to a positive drug test. He also testified he could not determine whether the marijuana metabolite came from CBD or an illegal THC product.
An Internal Affairs investigation was launched. Anderson told the investigator he had trouble sleeping so his wife suggested a CBD supplement. The manufacturer had given samples at the hospital where she worked as a nurse.
Other nurses she worked with had success with the supplement and had no problems when given random drug tests at work, she testified.
Anderson told the investigator he never ingested marijuana. He also took a computer voice stress analyzer. During the test, Anderson was asked if he had used illegal drugs or used marijuana in the past year, Det. Jonathan Sanchez testified.
Anderson answered “no” to both questions and Sanchez said did not detect any deception in the stress levels.
His wife, a co-worker and supervising sergeant all testified they had never known Anderson to take illicit drugs, use marijuana or appear to be under the influence of illicit drugs.
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Sen. Fred Mills was called to testify about his knowledge of CBD and the differences between CBD and illicit marijuana and argued there’s no testing to tell the difference.
Anderson was fired on June 25 for violating LCG’s zero-tolerance drug policy, which terminates employees who test positive for any level of illicit drug as outlined in the policy, Human Resources manager Rick Zeno testified.
Two other officers, Jonathan Rabb and Maverick Morvant, withdrew their appeals. Few details were shared about their discipline but Morvant was suspended for 30 calendar days and Rabb was suspended for 10 calendar days.
Contact Ashley White at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AshleyyDi.