Trucking and marijuana are two topics rarely discussed in the same sentence. However, with the laws on marijuana usage and acceptance changing, the trucking industry must set their own rules. The use of marijuana used to be a strict, across-the-board ban. While many states continue to fight over legalizing if marijuana, others allow its use for medical purposes. These states currently require a license to possess the drug.
Despite these changes, industries must decide if they should change their policy to fit the new law. For example, if a football player in Colorado is busted for possession, should that still be a violation of the substance abuse policy, even though it is legal in the state?
Outside of professional sports, other professions have strict laws. The trucking industry, for example, is not likely to budge on their stance. If a truck driver carries a medical marijuana card in a legal state, they need to know if their carrier allows them to possess and use marijuana. Would it become a felony to transport their personal marijuana across state lines?
Marijuana Trucking Regulations
While a truck driver may feel they are free to enter a legal state and smoke marijuana, the Department of Transportation (DOT) disagrees. DOT officials will expect all drivers of a commercial vehicle to not consume THC. Listed below are reasons for this.
First, the federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 drug. Federal law overrules state and local laws. The DEA still maintains that it has no medical use and it has a high potential for abuse. Users and defenders of the drug disagree entirely citing numerous health benefits, many of which might be useful for truckers. Second is drug testing. If you test positive for THC, this is a legal nightmare for trucking companies. If you smoke marijuana while off-duty, and not drive while under the influence, you can still test positive for THC for up to 30 days. In the event of an accident, you can fail a drug test and be held accountable.
Due to DOT regulations, failing a single drug test is grounds for termination. So, it does not matter if it is legal in that state and you consumed marijuana while off duty. The DOT is a federal agency, and they have a zero-tolerance policy, as do most trucking companies for the reasons provided above.
Any trace of the drug in your system is considered a failed drug test. You can receive a DUI for having any trace of marijuana in your system even in a legal state or with a medical license. Ultimately, it is not worth the gamble for a commercial truck driver’s career.
Strict Marijuana Transportation Laws
Another aspect of the law is the transportation of marijuana. If you had a medical marijuana card that allows you to possess marijuana for medical purposes legally, you still could not carry it with you in your truck. It is illegal to cross state lines with it, especially if that state still considers it illegal.
Regardless of state laws, commercial drivers still fall under federal government guidelines. It is not just drivers either, as it is illegal to transport marijuana in planes or any other form of transportation. These laws do make it difficult for medical marijuana users who have verified medical ailments which marijuana has been proven to treat.
Considering all the strict regulations and various laws, it is unlikely the DOT or trucking companies will ever relent, no matter how mainstream the use of marijuana becomes. It is a liability issue for truckers and trucking companies and will probably remain federally prohibited for some time.
Even in states where marijuana is considered legal, it is still illegal to drive while impaired by any substance. This is a good indication of why marijuana and the trucking industry will never mix. Even if the federal law changes, there will still be strict regulations in place by the DOT to keep impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle.