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Can Truckers Smoke Pot or Not? FMCSA and DOT Weigh in on Marijuana Use Among Transportation Employees

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truckers cannot use marijuana

The Department of Transport (DOT) recently issued a statement to address concerns swirling around medical (and recreational) marijuana use among truck drivers, school bus drivers, pilots and other “safety-sensitive transportation employees.” According to the notice, DOT will continue to enforce its zero tolerance policy, which includes a regulated drug testing program. DOT fully expressed its position, leaving nothing to open to interpretation:

“We want to make it perfectly clear that the DOJ guidelines will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program. We will not change our regulated drug testing program based upon these guidelines to Federal prosecutors.”

The statement goes a step further, even reefer referring to DOT’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40 at 40.151(e), which prohibits Medical Review Officers (MRO) from passing current or prospective transportation employees who have any drug listed under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in their system. The specific law follows:

§ 40.151 What are MROs prohibited from doing as part of the verification process? As an MRO (Medical Review Officer), you are prohibited from doing the following as part of the verification process: (e) You must not verify a test negative based on information that a physician recommended that the employee use a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. (e.g., under a state law that purports to authorize such recommendations, such as the “medical marijuana” laws that some states have adopted.)

In plain words, truckers and other transportation employees cannot use marijuana for any purpose—medical, recreational or otherwise. Regulations forbid such workers from “getting high” whether a doctor prescribes the drug or not. Criminal cases against those who violate regulations set forth by DOT will be pursued, since marijuana is a Schedule I Controlled Substance.

Jim L. Swart, director for the Office of the Secretary of Transportation/Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance Department of Transportation, closed with, “We want to assure the traveling public that our transportation system is the safest it can possibly be.”

You-Turn: If state or federal laws permit marijuana use, should truckers and other transportation employees be granted access to those same rights? Should they be held to higher (no pun intended) standards? We want to hear from you! Share your comments below.

36 Comments

  1. John Hillsbery says:

    Its a first but I totally agree. DOT regulations should not change with regards to ANY controlled substance.

    Reply
  2. Shawn Matthews says:

    No, we don’t need doped up drivers on the road. We also don’t need a lot of rules forced on us by old politicians who can’t keep their eyes open at work. Let’s do away with split speed limits and lane restrictions that end up causing more traffic and accidents while we are at it. Log books? What a joke. No two people are the same as far as their sleeping schedule is concerned. Hours of service rules end up putting tired drivers behind the wheel. I’m NEVER tired when I run out of hours, but because some retarded crackpot in D.C. says so, I have to stop and try to go to sleep. It’s stupid, it’s unsafe, and it’s a LOT more dangerous than pot smoking drivers. Fix it.

    Reply
    • Ranon says:

      How come everyone’s first response to this is that “they do not want some doped up driver behind the wheel of a semi”? No one in their right mind is going to get high and THEN go drive. And if they do they wont last long in that industry anyways. Not to mention that they have the right to drink but no ones stopping them from being a drunkard. And how is it that they can drink, have horrible affects the next morning, continue driving, and no one bothers them. Yet everyone is convinced that marijuana is SOOO bad. Honestly, after a long days driving, dealing with traffic, retarded people at the docks, and not seeing your family very often. Who are we to say that poor man cant enjoy himself a little toke. What they do in their spare time is up to them. I do not condone driving high or drunk. If they choose to smoke meth in their spare time then like I said. THEY WONT LAST. Nothing more beautiful than a deep NATURAL sleep aid and to be able to get up and feel well rested without having to “take another pill”. Because we can all agree, that a well rested driver is a safe driver.

      Reply
      • madness says:

        ive been driving trucks since i was 15 , yes 15 and im 48 now.i almost agree with all of that, except there are some well functioning addicts and drunkards in all positions in life some last a lifetime in their positions dont forget alot of them work for the government and they dont get fired. there are also some very ill-functioning people in those same positions that have never had a toke or snort of any kind that scare me the most in life including on the road, the retards you mentioned and the texters, seniors…etc.
        ive been smoking weed longer than ive been driving. ive had 8 jobs since high school, one lasted me for 14 years and each one better than the last. i sleep like baby.

        Reply
  3. Jim Fowler says:

    What truckers do on their own time is their business. Just as anyone else. Surely there is a test to determine if someone has smoked a joint in the last 8 hours. I don’t want stoned drivers on the road any more than I would want drunk drivers, but what you do on your own time should be your business.

    Reply
    • keith says:

      I am a trucker also I agree and disagree with you… I did drugs when I was young… Smoked weed, and pcp… both have different effects pcp the worst… But with pcp it actually slows everything down that you see… it is actually safer than weed while driving…. Why…. because you can percieve things at a slower rate while functioning you reactions at normalcy… wierd but true…. did it for three full years… The down fall is your attitude is unpredictable…. Very Very much so…..You are a clear danger to everyone even yourself…. With weed it still alters your preception and reactions…. If you care about yours and everybody else safety you would want to keep it limited if not totally banned…. I dont want to fly with a high pilot…. Nor would I want a 70,000 pound bearing driver high on the highway with me and my family…. I still drive to date… Now this is just my opinion not from a lab rats point of view but from personal experience… You dont have to agree with me…. I would LOVE to be able to smoke weed and keep my job but in reality I know I would only be selfish ….. It is not safe at all….

      Reply
  4. Matt says:

    CDL holders should be held in higher standards. With a no drug policy

    Reply
  5. ent says:

    absolutely not! a CDL is a professional, not only do we watchout for the highway driver and keep our load safe last i need is another driver high on anything n driving a semi, dont change the law!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  6. steve says:

    They let them get drunk…whats the difference?

    Reply
  7. Amit says:

    I don’t think it’s a bad idea after your shift getting relaxed. But I do think there should be some law in it like how much can they smoke and if thier body is back to normal the next day.

    Reply
  8. chris28715 says:

    If DOJ says itz ok for everybody else it should be ok for truckers also

    Reply
  9. Carol says:

    I’m a truck driver and I don’t think we should be smoking that stuff. If you are not driving for a few day and that is what you want to do but when it’s time for you to go back to work I think it should be out of your system.

    We are the one that set the examples of how you are to drive because we are professionals. I want to be safe I couldn’t live with myself If my driving took someone’s life being high.

    Reply
  10. raul r says:

    yes DOT have to set the law!but there people aren’t perfect made lifetime mistake and went cleaned by attending substance program or SAP.under DOT procedure they spend time and money on it to cleaned up.so they can go back driving the job they loved! the DOT have to set a guidelines to this employers to give this individual a second chance to go back to work..yes we are human we make mistake…

    Reply
  11. Don says:

    marijuana is ILLEGAL; but what he does on his own time is business.

    Reply
  12. Jesse Owens says:

    I think it’s just like everything else in this country. Weather you’re a law biding citizen or a criminal things will be abused and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it untill we get caught! I’ve been a truck driver for 10 years now and i screwed up one time and smoked a little pot with some old school friends and I’m paying the price for it now. I can not find a job driving a truck anywhere and I have a squeakie clean MVR and DAQ report and no criminal history what so ever! I understood the consequences before, during and after my little smoke session so “my bad”! I think marijuana could be used by anybody if they were not working while they were smoking and use the drug responsibly! Its in the same category as alcohol in my perspective! I did my dirt and paid the piper per say, I paid for a SAP out of pocket and got everything i needed to get back in a truck and nothing! I cant even get people to respond to me so take my word for it and leave the stuff alone weather its legal or not!

    Reply
    • Midrange says:

      You are applying for the wrong companies. I’ve worked for carriers that knew I was smoking in my off time, I’ve been driving for 10 years and never had any incidents (knock on wood)

      Reply
  13. Frank says:

    I would not want a school bus driver stone transporting my children it does delay your reflexes a judgement im sure there is other treatment for there medical condition.

    Reply
  14. Josh says:

    I think medical/recreational use is fine as long as you are not intoxicated while driving. It is ridiculous to use a test which can detect metabolites in your system weeks after use and intoxication. A different test is needed.

    Reply
  15. Keith says:

    Well, it’s highly questionable if pot impairs driving. When I hear these conversations it sounds as if people are discussing alcohol.

    First of all, I don’t think people who haven’t smoked pot should be leading the conversations. Let level heads with experience come up with entry level policy to safely test how much marijuana impairs a driver.

    Assuming pot is legalized, which it should be, perhaps initially driving should have regulation similiar to alcohol. Where as you cannot imbibe within a certain time before driving. Maybe 4 to 8 hours or something.

    So if someone is driving down the road with red eyes, eating potato chips, and with a warm joint in the ashtray… they should at least be put out of service.

    Also, there could be a restiction on having pot in a truck cab. Same as alcohol, drivers cannot have it there.

    Down the road, such policies could be adjusted if it’s found marijuana has little to no impact on drivers. Just keep in mind before you go off the deep end with restrictions; anyone with experience knows alcohol can severely impact driving ability and marijuana really does not unless you smoke a lot and blood thc content has little or nothing to do with it.

    Well actually blood alcohol content is also effected by tolerace to alcohol and current law doesn’t take that into consideration. My prediction is in the end it will have restictions that parallel alcohol because it’s a big money maker, busting people.

    Reply
  16. paul thomas says:

    Absolutely not, what you do on your own time is your business and no one elses. And since when does it follow that someone who smokes marijuana will also smoke it behind the wheel of a vehicle. I’ve smoked pot for 30 years and I would never operate a vehicle or any machinery for that matter under the influence of anything. This is just one more example of the stupidity of gov. being allowed to over step there boundaries by foolish short sighted people. When will it stop, already companies are refusing to hire people because they smoke cigarettes, (something that I don’t do), where will it lead next, don’t hire obese people, don’t hire people with a history of diabetes or heart disease. Wake up people this is ridiculous…and just plain WRONG

    Reply
  17. -x- says:

    If it is legalized by the government, and used on a drivers own time ( such as home time) then yes, they should be allowed to partake. Now while on duty of course not. The driver should have a clear focus, be responsible, and perform the job function with professional attitude.

    The rules should be stern while on duty yet passive on personal time. Professionals should be held to a higher standard. period.

    A person(s) home life and what they consume is private. And should not be punished for it. As long as it does not get abused while on duty I see no problem.

    Reply
  18. joe says:

    smoking pot.most drivers are more likly to be more relax driving then tence.it makes you more cuacious.its not like drinking.as a driver.your not getting wasted.like drinking.most people who smoke pot are less in a rush.less actidents but cause drivers would drive more slower.they done research.most times people in a rush.smoking pot does not make you lose controll.your more a were of whats around you.

    Reply
  19. Jamie says:

    Unfortunately, right now I will have to agree wit the DOT. I understand where both sides are coming from, especially it being regulated like alcohol where you can not be under the influence whatsoever. Since some states have regulated recreational use and many have regulated medical marijuana it is a disappointment that the DOT standards will not change. At the same time, we have to be held at a higher standard with all duties e.i. school bus driving, truck driving and air traffic etc that are safety sensitive functions. I have to admit that even though I have nothing against marijuana use and I have used it myself, it can lead to lack of judgements or misjudgments even if you aren’t “high.” That’s just how marijuana works! And I know I would hate to mess up on my job and cause something to happen because I had a brain fart due to smoking too much pot! That can’t be tolerated… not in a position such as truck driving because we all know how everything you do, you have to do it right. Sadly if we decide to live these lifestyles and have these careers choices we need to make the smart decisions and stay clean and sober because the other motorist on the road and our safety depends on it.

    Reply
  20. sean crawford says:

    This is what the DOT needs to change, pot stays in your system for up to a month as thc but not active thc. Active thc will tell weather you have smoked weed within three to five hours and that’s what legal states are going to be testing drivers for to determine weather they are intoxicated and the max allowed is 5 nanograms. Cdl drivers should be tested the same way!!!!! Any responsible driver will not drive stoned but because thc stays in your system as a byproduct doesn’t mean your stoned. I cant believe it is a schedule 1 narcotic I think it should be decriminalized or reclassified!!!!!

    Reply
  21. raul rata says:

    yes I somewhat agree to the DOT .that safety first.so they have require to those driver who violated the DOT policy!people make mistake and it happen DOT knows that that they got DOT SAP return to duty program.for those driver who regret doing it and want go back to work by cleaning up.now the problem is the employer this trucking companies recruiter,who are discriminating this driver who want to go back to work. well DOT have to help out to,by helping this driver who have done SAP DOT compliance against discrimination.so they can find work…….HELP HELP..DOT…

    Reply
  22. nick says:

    smoke?? and crash ?? no thanks..lol

    Reply
  23. Keith says:

    I hadn’t heard of this active and inactive THC. Very interesting, sounds like this new technology is perfect to regulate drivers from driving under the influence. The DoT should change it’s regulations to only look at active THC.

    Reply
  24. Bill Boner says:

    THIS should have been settled in the sixties! Too bad so much political capitol had to be spent just ending the vietnam war. Are there more homosexuals than pot smokers in this country?! I mean, a couple of fags can get “married”, an honorable woman can “choose” an abortion, but a harmless, paranoid, non confrontational flower child is effectively in the closet?! Alcohol causes many more multiples of deaths and ruined lives than all other drugs combined. (don’t forget about abused prescription drugs) Prohibition proved you can’t stop substance abuse in a free society. I got another one– isn’t prostitution illegal? Don’t these “adult” actresses have to turn in W-2′s and file income taxes? Boy, that must be some cleverly worded 1040′s!

    Reply
  25. Steve says:

    I am a cement truck driver here in Southern California. I’ve read a lot of peoples comments on here. I understand how some feel about truckers being under the influence while on duty driving. That is a huge safety concern. I understand! I don’t smoke at the moment, but as a commercial licensed driver I would still like to smoke a little weed to relax AFTER work every now and then. If there isn’t a problem with me having a beer or two AFTER work, there shouldn’t be any problem with me smoking a little POT. After all, I am at home. So what’s the problem? I think marijuana usage for truckers should be treated in a different manner.. It should be treated in the same manner as alcohol. Truckers should be able to use marijuana on their own time and/or OFF duty. As a professional driver, safety is always first! Therefore, I would never drive under the influence of any alcohol or drug. But when I’m home I should be able to do anything I please. And I strongly feel that this needs to be pushed and the DOT needs to lay off a bit..

    Reply
  26. wrong turn says:

    Let say that the federal government does make marijuana legal most likely there will be a change for certain test for example a driver can get out of his truck buy beer and drink and since his last drink in 32 hours he can drive again even though he got hammered but now he is sober driving professionally around you and you family the same thing can be done about marijuana drivers should be able to smoke but not when they are driving about to drive only on hour recaps home …I am a driver and safety is every thing driving while high is unsafe but look at the man who drank became sober and aware of everything around him is know legal to drive this right should also hold for marijuana…but just like alcohol it should not be aloud in the trucks a stoned driver is OK only when he his home on 32 hour rest or done for the day ..and like a breath test there is THC swabs that detect THC within a 10 hour period and drinking of lot water can not help to get that clean

    Reply
  27. Patrick says:

    I’m a local truck driver and I would much rather smoke weed than drink in the evenings. I certainly wouldn’t smoke before work. But to smoke after work watch TV or play video games that would be great. plus there wouldn’t be a risk of a hangover the next morning. driving hungover sucks! I wouldn’t imagine any driver smoking before work. but I’m sure 90 percent out there would love to smoke after work. i was a huge pot smoker in my late teens and early twenties and personally feel smoking pot is a much better alternative than drinking to relax.

    Reply
  28. john Boylan says:

    I don’t consume alcohol when I Drive a commercial vehicle so I won’t consume marijuana when I Drive a commercial vehicle. What’s the problem?

    Reply
  29. Johnny says:

    Some of you are idiots, they’re not trying to say let truckers smoke while driving ,that’s just stupid , it’s the fact that since it’s legal now in co and wa , why can’t drivers smoke it on there free time like everyone else, just like drinking , which is. Worse than pot, I’m just a local driver mon-fri off weekends ,by law if I want to smoke it of and evening or on the weekend , I should have that right. Notice I said by law, I do it anyways have never been high while driving and never caused any problems like I would if I were drunk,,and I’m Gona continue to do it,what the dot boys don’t know won’t hurt them .

    Reply
  30. John says:

    You know, nobody has mentioned that any driver on the road can be under the influence of any narcotic and you would never know, seriously how many accidents have there been on the news that drivers high on marijuana… really, leave the ones who have a medicinal license alone and everyone else who doesnt obviously has no reason to use marijuana in a medical sense.

    Reply
  31. MSMP says:

    OK.. IM A CDL DRIVER FOR ALMOST 10 YEARS, AND I AGREE THAT ANY IMPAIRMENT SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED WITH ANY MOTOR VEHILLE, AND ESPECIALLY CDL DRIVERS. MY PROBLEM IS THAT FOR EXAMPLE, SAY I HAVE A 3 WEEK VACATION COMING(YEAH RUGHT) AND I FLY TO AMSTERDAM FOR MY TIME OFF. AFTER ARRIVAL, I GO DOWNTOWN AND HIT THE HASH HOUSES, POT BARS, EDIBLES.. ETC.. FAR OUT.. I TAKE THC BASED PRODUCTS ONLY ON MY FIRST DAY AND JUST CHILL FOR THE REST.. AFTER I COME BACK TO EARTH, I FLY HOME AND RETURN TO WORK. (3 WEEKS HAVE PASSED) AND IM OUT DRIVING A LOAD. MY CLOCK IS FULL, AND IM DEFINATELY RESTED AND 100% SOBER AND FEEL WONDERFUL. I PARK MY TRUCK AFTER MY SHIFT IN A LEGAL PARKING SPACE AND HOP IN THE SLEEPER.. 2 HOURS LATER A DAMNED 4 WHEELER REARENDS INTO MY TRAILERS DOT BAR AND HE AND HIS FAMILY ARE ALL DECAPITATED AND THEN BARBECUED BEFORE I CAN EVEN HOP OUT TO SEE THE CARNGE.. (YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT) ME AND THE STATE TROOPERS GO TO THE HOSPITAL CUZ I HAVE A DATE WITH A NEEDLE. THEY PULL A TUBE OF MY BLOOD AND BAM!!! THE CDL DRIVER (THATS ME) WAS UNDER THE INFLUANCE OF THC (CONSUMED LEGALLY WHERE ITS 100% LEGAL) WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN TO ME AND MY WORLD..

    Reply
  32. Teresa says:

    I’m a Trucker Driver, I have never smoked anything. However, I had worked
    In the medical feild for years and I think that if marijuana is given to a person for a
    medical reason by a medical doctor then, the drug is a treatment for his patient . Then,the patient should have the appropriate counselling on how and when to use his medication. There are so many working people with medical conditions and the medical and science feild are often critized for not finding ways to ease the pain of the patient, I think that medical marijuana users should have an exception. Especially in the D.O.T. rule book. After all this is the U.S.A the people have the right to vote in a change. We must keep in mine that one day we may need this treatment and truck driving may be our only job we are qualified to preform.

    Reply

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