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Rochester may stop testing job applicants for pot

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Anyone anxious about a job interview with the city of Rochester may soon be able to unwind with a joint without affecting their chances of getting hired.

City Council is considering legislation that would bar the city from testing most job applicants for THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. The bill was submitted jointly by Mayor Lovely Warren and Council President Loretta Scott and is slated to be voted on in May.

Current city policy requires applicants to be tested for THC. Applicants who test positive are barred from working for the city for one year.

The new legislation states that the policy unfairly punishes people for something that may have no effect on their job performance. Harder drugs, like heroin and cocaine, tend to not show up on drug tests in under a week, while traces of THC can linger for a month.

“Removal of pre-employment testing for THC avoids unfair discrimination against individuals for an activity conducted during non-work hours that may have no effect on their ability to perform the job for which they are applying,” the legislation reads.

The new measure would not affect applicants for public safety positions, like police and firefighters, where testing would still be required.



The introduction of the bill follows a high-profile incident involving a would-be legislative aide to an incoming City Council member that made headlines in CITY in January.  Jasmin Reggler was denied employment to work for Council member Mary Lupien after Reggler tested positive.
Jasmin Reggler, who campaigned for City Council member Mary Lupien and whom Lupien tapped to be her legislative aide, was barred from working for the city when she tested positive for cannabis. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Jasmin Reggler, who campaigned for City Council member Mary Lupien and whom Lupien tapped to be her legislative aide, was barred from working for the city when she tested positive for cannabis.
On Monday, Reggler, a manager at St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality, said she was pleased with the measure but has no plans to apply for a job in city government.

“For me, it’s a social justice issue,” Reggler said. “I wish the city was more forward about that, that there was a community effort behind this, but I’m happy they finally did it, it will help a lot of people.”

Lupien said the current policy disproportionately affects people of color and that she supports the bill. She added that she hoped Rochester would eventually follow the lead of New York City, which last year adopted a law prohibiting THC testing for all employers, public and private.

“Marijuana legalization is definitely coming, it’s not an if, it’s a when,” Lupien said. “This is a step in the right direction. Further, the city could be more progressive and follow New York City by getting rid of pre-employment THC testing entirely.”

The bill will go to a vote at the monthly City Council meeting on May 12.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at gfanelli@rochester-citynews.com.