Austin, Texas May Let Some First Responders Use Medical Cannabis

The city council in Austin, Texas is considering whether to let some city-employed first responders access the state’s medical cannabis program.

Full story after the jump.

The Austin, Texas City Council Public Safety Committee is considering allowing some city employed first responders to use medical cannabis, FOX 7 reports. If approved, the policy would cover all first responders except those that carry firearms – such as police officers and arson investigators – and those who operate commercial vehicles due to federal prohibition.

The policy would also prohibit the use of any THC on the job, which is prohibited under the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act.

Assistant City Manager Ray Arellano said the state’s medical cannabis law is “silent” on whether registered patients are permitted to use low-THC products at work. He looked at other cities’ medical cannabis policies and found that, of the 20 cities surveyed, only Boston allows medical cannabis use among first responders – nine cities surveyed do not allow it while 10 did not respond.

“I think what we’re trying to do is find a solution that keeps us square with all the regulations that are out there.” – Arellano to FOX 7

The proposal comes as some city agencies, like Austin Police Department and Austin-Travis County EMS face staffing shortages; EMS in November removed a question from their applications about prior cannabis use but first responders can still be fired if they test positive for cannabis on a drug test.

Arellano said he would defer to individual agencies to address the issue during the contract negotiation process but a specific measure has not yet been introduced to the council.

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