Are marijuana laws in your state changing? Are they becoming more lenient or stringent? As a commercial motor vehicle operator or a part of the trucking or transport industry, how are they going to affect you? Does it mean that a review of your drug and alcohol testing policy is due?
Some players in the transport industry are of the opinion that the legalization of marijuana consumption both for medical and recreational purposes is complicating the DOT drug and alcohol testing procedures in some states. In such cases, it is widely suggested that the company or the owner reviews their drug and alcohol testing program /policies as soon as possible. But they still need to keep in mind that both medical and recreational marijuana is still illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
According to the DOT’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations (49 CFR Part 40), one is not going to be excused in the event of being found using medical marijuana. If their random DOT compliance drug testing/substance test shows positive results, appropriate action will be taken as per the law.
Do bear in mind that when it comes to commercial vehicle drivers, you as an organization will be subject to federally regulated safety standards. This clearly means that you cannot accommodate medical marijuana in your workplace or allow or tolerate recreational marijuana and this holds even if it is legal in your state. After having set or reviewed your drug testing policy you will need to discuss it with your MRO (Medical Review Officer). As the employer, you are required to make the correct employment decisions and also always comply with all the applicable laws. This brings us to a very common point of discussion which is the effects of changes in marijuana laws on your organization.
Marijuana Laws Are Changing. If It Is Legal In Your State, Would That Mean You Are Allowed To Use It When You’re Driving Your Truck? Is That So? You Can Obviously Use This Drug Recreationally But The Question Is “When.”
You can use it when you are OFF DUTY because you are not allowed to use this drug or substance of any kind when you are on duty. Why? According to the Department of Transportation, marijuana is still very much illegal under federal law.
This means that all your “safety sensitive” employees and even you as a supervisor or the owner (in case you operate a commercial vehicle / occasionally lead a fleet or for any purpose if you are behind the wheel) will be subject to federally-mandated random DOT drug and alcohol testing program.
You will still be prohibited from using the drug. So this doesn’t necessarily mean just the group of employees who operate commercial vehicles but everyone who has to be behind the wheel under any circumstances (license holder). This will include your train engineers, pilots, and even school bus drivers.
Are People Really Using Medical Marijuana Card From Their Doctor As An Excuse To Use Marijuana?
They try but they don’t succeed. Your Medical Review Officer will present in front of you the option to use a medical marijuana card as a way to excuse a positive drug test result. This however is not going to work because the federal law will consider everyone’s safety and wellbeing over one person’s medical state. The law clearly states that even if you live in a state where the government has legalized the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana and also even if you’ve been prescribed a certain amount of the drug for medical purposes, the federal law still prohibits you to use the drug while you are employed as a commercial motor vehicle driver. This means that the federal law prevails over every other rule or policy. You will be required to take the DOT-mandated drug and alcohol testing. Make sure you do not receive a positive test result, regardless of whether you are allowed to use medical marijuana or not.
For more information about FMCSA guidelines and rules regarding the DOT drug and alcohol tests, DOT compliance services and DOT physical exam do visit DOT Compliance Group.