Texas EMS agency removes job applicant disqualification for prior marijuana use

"We're about 80 paramedics down," said Austin EMS Association President Selena Xie, who hopes the change helps with staffing

By Leila Merrill

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin-Travis County EMS has removed a disqualification for prior marijuana use from its job application process, KVUE reported Tuesday.

Some hope that the change helps ease the agency’s staffing shortage.

"It's really bad right now," said Austin EMS Association President Selena Xie. "We're about 80 paramedics down." 

Xie said the union worked with Texas Norml, a pro-marijuana nonprofit, to create a petition and sent thousands of letters to the EMS interim chief and the Austin city council. She said the policy had been putting off job applicants from states where marijuana use is legal.

"We didn't want Texans and people from all over this country to be not allowed to work for our department because of legal use," said Xie.

The union leader pointed out that applicants would still have to pass a drug test, and random drug testing is not going away. 

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