The city of Port Huron will no longer consider marijuana use a disqualification for job applicants — nor, a policy violation for most employees when off the clock — under an administrative order issued this week.
Since the state legalization of recreational marijuana use in 2018, City Manager James Freed said his administration has not generally enforced any standards about the issue, citing a practice of being “committed to not intruding into the private lives” of staff in a notice to employees on Monday.
However, Freed later admitted they’ve “never taken a formal position on it,” either.
“We also recognized that the voters have spoken, I think, two or three different times at the ballot box here on the issue,” he said in an interview. “… The laws have changed. The voters of this state and this city have spoken, and we need to update our policies accordingly.”
The official was referencing both the 2008 and 2018 medical and recreational marijuana state ballot votes, as well as voters’ broad support in a 2014 municipal vote to decriminalize pot possession.
In the notice, which was also sent to the mayor and City Council, Freed wrote the order did not apply to city police officers and those required to maintain a commercial driver’s license as part of their job.
He also said that marijuana use, distribution, or possession was still against policy for any employee while on duty.
“In other words, we plan to treat marijuana the same as alcohol,” he wrote. “Just as you should not drink alcohol prior to coming to work, you should not use marijuana prior to coming to work.”
Under the order, an employee may be subject to discipline if a supervisor suspects they’re under the influence while on the clock — be it due to abnormal or erratic behavior, direct observation of use, physical symptoms such as blood-shot eyes and poor reflexes, or other information.
Those employees would be subject to drug testing, and those who test positive or refuse testing would face other disciplinary action.
Freed did not point to other reasons that supported extending the newly formalized standard to job applicants. But when asked if he thought the decision would increase applicants to city positions, he said, “I know it will.”
“We have vacancies all across the board,” he said, “whether those be temp (or) seasonal.”
Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.