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Cook County Discontinues Job Applicant Marijuana Tests

“I just don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” said Brittany Robinson


It’s a pot power struggle in Cook County, Illinois, where job offers to several attorneys from Public Defender Sharone Mitchell were rescinded after applicants tested positive for weed.

Adult-use Cannabis became legal in Illinois last January. That altered the hiring process for many, including a handful of attorneys offered jobs months ago by the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. The office canceled the job offers when drug tests came back positive for marijuana, reports WLS.

Cook County is changing the policy, due to the fact that marijuana is legal in Illinois. The office asked the attorneys involved to resubmit their job applications.

‘Not Something The County Should Be Investigating’

Brittany Robinson and Matt Stein applied for attorney positions in the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. Both got job offers, and then both of their drug tests were positive for Cannabis. Both say they smoke weed recreationally; it’s legal, after all.

“As long as there’s not a substance abuse problem, if a person is going to work sober, they’re meeting their duties to their clients, that should be enough,” Stein said. “It’s not, it’s not something the county should really be investigating unless there’s some sort of reasonable suspicion that this person has a problem.”

“What I do on my own time does not affect my professional responsibilities,” Robinson said.

‘Employment Testing For Cannabis Is Wholly Inappropriate’

“The Public Defenders Office’s is disappointed that we were unable to hire these candidates who are highly qualified,” Mitchell said. “Our position has never changed. Their alleged consumption of cannabis should not be a factor in determining whether they should be offered a position.

“Additionally, we believe employment testing for cannabis is wholly inappropriate given its legality and widespread safe use.”

“We learned that the County has agreed to revise its Drug & Alcohol Policy and the Assistant Public Defender position will no longer require a drug test. Moreover, the affected candidates will be allowed to reapply immediately,” Sharone said.

‘This Is Why We Went To Law School’

Stein and Robinson both say they hope the revised policy saves future applicants from their struggle.

“We really want to work…this is what we want to do, this is why we went to law school,” Stein said. “We want to represent people who need a voice.”

“I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said Robinson.

Both Stein and Robinson say they are reapplying for the assistant public defender jobs.

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