Drivers are still hazy on state marijuana laws

Employers can’t assume their drivers understandmarijuana laws

Recently, I had a conversation about industry trends with a commercial driver. When the conversation turned to DOT drug and alcohol testing, he had questions. “How do the new state marijuana laws affect truckers?” he asked.

I told him how the federal rules take precedence over any state laws, since trucking is a “highly regulated industry.” What is permitted for the general public does not apply to commercial drivers.

I explained how marijuana and products containing THC, such as CBD oil, are prohibited, and the drug remains on Schedule I, the most restrictive of the federal drug lists.

Don’t assume your drivers know better about marijuana

I was surprised to learn that drivers are still confused about marijuana. Employers can’t assume their drivers understand it is off limits. Based on my recent conversation, there is a real possibility that some drivers have no idea what the rules require. They may be making incorrect assumptions on the topic. As a result, your drivers might:

  • Purchase a recreational product containing THC believing it is no different than consuming alcohol, or
  • View legally prescribed medical marijuana the same as other pain killers.

Communicate, and repeat as necessary

Motor carriers need to counter any misunderstandings about state marijuana laws. The topic should be brought up more often than new hire training. Existing drivers should be reminded that nothing has changed under the federal rules. This point is especially important if you are located in, or your drivers pass through, states allowing for the use of medical and/or recreational marijuana.

4 ways to dispel marijuana myths for drivers

  1. Provide drivers with information through safety tips (texts, emails, posters)
  2. Have a question-and-answer session and additional training on marijuana during safety meetings
  3. Include both CDL and non-CDL CMV drivers in conversations on marijuana
  4. Train driver supervisors so they can provide correct information to drivers

About the author
Kathy Close - Transportation Editor

Kathy provides regulatory support for a variety of products; her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, driver qualification, and the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement model.

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