Commercial Truck Drivers Moving Loads Across the Country Given Notice by USDOT: Changing State Marijuana Laws Do Not Change Truck Driver Duty of Safety on US Roads

Commercial Truck Drivers Moving Loads Across the Country Given Notice by USDOT: Changing State Marijuana Laws Do Not Change Truck Driver Duty of Safety on US Roads

Truck drivers, take note:  even if you move your big rig or semi or tractor trailer through a state that allows recreational marijuana (Colorado, Washington) or medical marijuana, the federal authorities are not going to budge one iota on maintaining safety protocols regarding the use of drugs or alcohol while driving commercial trucks.

Seventeen states have passed legislation that approves the use of medicinal marijuana in some measure:

1996 – California
1998 – Alaska, Oregon, Washington
1999 – Maine
2000 – Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada
2004 – Montana
2006 – Rhode Island
2007 – New Mexico, Vermont
2008 – Michigan
2010 – Arizona, New Jersey
2011 – Delaware, Washington DC
2012 – Connecticut, Massachusetts

Truck Drivers Tempted to Use Cannibis Should Be Warned:  Federal Law Still Imposes Same Safety Standards on Their Driving on the Job on Interstate Roadways.

While Indiana and Illinois do not authorize the use of marijuana for any reason, it is also true that these two states are a trade-traffic hub for interstate trucks moving cargo from coast to coast.  Every day, people in our communities share roadways with truckers driving big rigs, semis, and 18-wheelers that are merely moving through our states as they zip from place to place, moving product.  Some of these truck routes will, of course, include moving through the states that have authorized marijuana.

For truck drivers that take advantage of the opportunity to access marijuana in these states, be warned.  The federal government isn’t budging here. (And neither has Indiana or Illinois legislatures or courts on the duty of care required by those moving on roads within their state lines.)

In an official Department of Transportation Notice, Jim Swart as Director of the Office of the Secretary of Transportation announced the following:

Recently, some states passed initiatives to permit use of marijuana for so-called “recreational” purposes. We have had several inquiries about whether these state initiatives will have an impact upon the Department of Transportation’s longstanding regulation about the use of marijuana by safety sensitive transportation employees – pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, subway operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, transit fire-armed security personnel, ship captains, and pipeline emergency response personnel, among others.

We want to make it perfectly clear that the state initiatives will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program. The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40 – does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason.

Therefore, Medical Review Officers (MROs) will not verify a drug test as negative based upon learning that the employee used “recreational marijuana” when states have passed “recreational marijuana” initiatives. We also firmly reiterate that an MRO will not verify a drug test negative based upon information
that a physician recommended that the employee use “medical marijuana” when states have passed “medical marijuana” initiatives. It is important to note that marijuana remains a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

It remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.

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