ATCEMS says it will no longer disqualify applicants for marijuana use

Austin-Travis County EMS will no longer disqualify new applicants if they’ve had marijuana or any other THC products in the past. This year the Austin EMS Association found many applicants who are from states where it is legal were turned away for this one reason. 

"We hope that removing the marijuana question will bring in more applicants I know that for the next processor at least get two more applicants," said Selena Xie the Austin EMS Association President.

Xie said they’re currently dealing with a staffing shortage as they work to hire about 80 paramedics. This year they’ve noticed many applicants were being disqualified because of the question which asks about marijuana in the hiring process. "There were multiple candidates who would’ve absolutely gotten the job if this question had been removed."

The question asks new applicants if they used any illegal drugs within the past three years and specifically mentions marijuana. Xie said the issue with this question is the wording, as marijuana is legal in certain states. "We’ve actually had people who have been disqualified because they use THC products legally in the state that they are from."

After a review of the hiring process, the marijuana question is now removed entirely. 

"Our belief was that the initial application was created at a time where most states did criminalize THC. As things are shifting and the majority of states do have legal THC use either recreationally or medicinally that we just haven’t updated some of these disqualifications," said Xie.

The use of marijuana or any THC products after being hired is still prohibited, if it’s found in their system during Random drug tests they’ll be fired.

During this legislative session, there was a bill signed into law that allowed medicinal cannabis to be prescribed. The EMS association said the city has yet to tell them what this means for their department.

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