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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