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.