No Tokes for Truckers: Marijuana and Truck Drivers

No Tokes for Truckers: Marijuana and Truck Drivers
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There is fast-growing support for legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing it recreationally in many parts of the country. However, the transportation industry still isn’t budging when it comes to marijuana and truck drivers. It is a tricky topic. Many states have legalized cannabis for medical and even recreational use. However, the federal government says that marijuana use is illegal at the federal level. This causes much confusion in states where it’s legal. That confusion filters down to the trucking industry. Those with their CDL wonder how state and federal marijuana laws affect their rights. Truck drivers want to know if it is possible to hold both a valid commercial driving license and a medical marijuana card. Other questions linger too, such as whether or not it’s legal to transport marijuana across state lines.

Everything You Want to Know About Marijuana and Truck Drivers

marijuana and truck drivers

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Marijuana and truck drivers: Can they smoke in places where it is legal to do so?

The Department of Transportation’s Office (DOT) of Drug and Alcohol Policy remains resilient in its regulations expecting that drivers keep THC out of their systems. Even though marijuana is legal in over half the United States, the federal government still considers it a Schedule I drug. This means the government classifies marijuana in the same category as heroin. Schedule I drugs are “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Therefore, even though states are legalizing the drug for medical use, industries such as trucking don’t benefit because they are highly regulated at the federal level. Plus, no matter what state you live in, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. So, basically, if a truck driver fails a drug test, Medical Review Officers might not tolerate the results even if he or she has a valid medical marijuana prescription.

What happens when drivers fail drug tests for marijuana use?

Drivers not only have to worry about the law when using marijuana. They also have to worry about their employer. Let’s say a driver tests positive for marijuana. Regardless of the circumstances, their employer should terminate them based on DOT’s regulations. One issue is that even if a driver smoked legally in their home-state and wasn’t impaired at the time of testing, they could fail a blood test and be charged as impaired anyway. This is because marijuana stays in your blood’s system much longer than alcohol. According to the Journal of AACC, a daily smoker’s THC levels can remain in their system up to 30 days. A 2007 study even concluded that a person can be completely sober yet fail a blood test due to cannabis in their blood. The law considers truck drivers with any trace of marijuana in their system as impaired. Truck drivers who want to smoke marijuana recreationally or even for the most innocent of medical treatments risk losing their jobs and receiving a DUI.

Can you transport marijuana across state lines?

It is illegal to transport marijuana across state lines. Even though trucks are hauling marijuana in states where it’s legal, those trucks can only transport the drug within the state. They can’t cross state lines with the drug. Even medical marijuana patients cannot bring their drugs with them on an airplane. These regulations make it very difficult for people using marijuana as their main source of treatment to maintain their health. It’s also a big reason why truck drivers likely won’t be allowed to use cannabis any time soon.

How does cannabis-use impair driving?

Many studies indicate that it’s dangerous to drive while under the influence. Other studies find that marijuana-users have fewer accidents than non-users. One study even found that only 30 percent of participants using marijuana failed field-sobriety tests despite the fact that they were under the influence. Despite all the studies, until federal regulations change, truck drivers who want to partake put themselves at great risk.

Learn more about marijuana and truck drivers in this BigRigBanter podcast! Click the episode below to hear an exclusive interview with a well-known lawyer in Colorado!

What are your thoughts on marijuana and truck drivers? Share with us in the comments below!

Author: Hit The Road Jack

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39 Comments

    • You can still face l lawsuit from someone you hit in an accident.

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  1. Unfortunately, “Just don’t do it!” isn’t acceptable for the responsible, intelligent, hardworking, and taxpaying citizen that chooses to use an alternative medicine.

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    • It is amazing, anyone can go to the dr. And get prescribed pain killers,amphetamines and other highly abbused drugs,and drive a commercial vehicle because they have a prescrition. But i cant get off work and have a little smoke to relax,something proven to be healthy, instead i drink to unwind. Say what you want, its my choice to what helps me cope, only the responsible drivers would never smoke weed and drive a tractor trailer, so we get punished in our down time for the idiots who just dont care about safety of others.

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      • i sadly just lost my job for testing positive for THC 9 days after i smoked on a weekend my own personal time, i had to do a drug treatment program where all ,but me was there for heroin use. my career is likely over for smoking some weed in a state where it is legal, I will never be able to find a Trucking Job that will pay me what i have built up for over 18 years, This is the first time in ever testing positive for anything.

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      • ?This. Except my Tractor/trailers are Lineman vehicles (poles n cables).

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      • You took the words out of my mouth bro, the law is bullshit…!! Marijuana is completely safe !!

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      • SO YU SAYN TOBACCO PROVEN KILLER OH YEH DRUNK DRIVING PROVEN KILLER IS FINE BUT A PROVEN MEDICINE OHH NO NOT THAT FOH WIT THAT PURE STUPIDITY STUDY THAT WITH AMERICAN DEATHS EACH YEAR THIS WHOLE DEBATE IS UBSURD

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      • Yeah I agree, what I do on my own time. I am a truck driver myself. I do not drink nor do any drugs during my work week. But, if I am at a party Friday night and decide to take a couple of tokes or whatever, it’s my right. I am not driving nor working. My freedom!!!!!. To do what I want. So they are basically saying, we control you guys even when you are not on the clock. Those guys that abused the system screwed us that are responsible. If I got high Saturday night. I’m not damn high Monday for work assholes. They have to change the system. What’s funny is. If I get high. Wow. It might be twice on 1 year. I should have the freedom to what I want on my days off.

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    • I just lost my job and my cdl for having an empty bottle of CBD in my truck. I had no idea this was illegal, I didn’t use it while driving only on weekends. I should not have had it in my truck at all, but now I’m unemployed, homeless, and can’t drive a truck for a year.

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  2. Marijuana helps me sleep. So what is worse? A sleepy driver or a well rested driver? I’m pretty sure that if you drive a 70 foot long 80,000 pound vehicle at 60 mph down the highway with your eyes closed and unconscious, is far more dangerous than being conscious and alert with your eyes open.

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  3. This is why Americans don’t follow laws. Our laws aren’t in place to protect lives (eating too many animal products account for 12 out of the 15 leading causes of death in the US), our laws are in place to protect industrial profits. Marijuana will take over the oil, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries. The only question you should be asking yourself is “what side of history do you wish to end up on?”

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    • I am a comercial Diver & I work on a crew that everyone has to be ready or something could go really wrong. I would much rather have someone that stayed home and smoked some pot last night running my mixed gas rack over some asshole that went to the bar til 2 a.m.. Now having a “DUMB day” keep that drunk bastard OFF MY DECK & send me a pothead PRETTY PLEASE

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  4. The U.S. government is a joke! Just look at this presidential race. We have a reality T.V. star running for office & one of the biggest lyers in Washington running. Do you REALLY expect anything smart to come from the federal government? If you do i have a Planet I want to sell you. Obama is the BEST thing America has seen for at least 30 years. We need young ambitious leaders that are willing to research medical marijuana so they can see smoking pot is way better than bottles and bottles of pain killers & muscle relaxers that destroy your liver!

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    • Donald Trump just did more AGAINST the war on drugs than any President since the W.O.D. was started by Nixon….Trump just slashed the D.E.A.’s budget by 94%! All Obama ever gave us was “lip-service”! He did nothing to further our cause other than to say “of course I inhaled, that was the point”. My died in the wool Democrat buddy just called and told me that and said “next election I’m voting for Trump!”.

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  5. Will smoking weed affect me getting my license at all? I know i have to do a urine test. But will that become a problem for getting my truck license? Do i need to quit? I dont smoke and drive just at night time before bed.

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    • Yes, you’ll have to take a DOT physical and you can’t use synthetic piss for that test because they test for blood sugar markers in your pee… but for randoms I suggest quick fix synthetic urine

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    • you need to quit, make sure you know u will be clean for a drug test, , these tests will haunt u. I just got suspended for testing positive, first time in 18 fkn years i tested positive, and the only reason was because its legal here in my state for recreational use, ya ummm that doesn’t matter to the federal gov, they still call it illegal even with all the benefits it has for so many people in cluding myself, I now have to take a substance abuse course because i smoked some weed on my time to help ease the pain of sciatica, diabetes, and inability to sleep. i hate pills so i never asked doc for pills they just suck .. anyways DONT SMOKE , again make sure u know u will be clean b4 u start testing for jobs, and never smoke weed again.. thank the federal gov for these restrictions, can’t legalize it on a fed level ,because that will take million away from the BIG PHARMAS…

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      • I HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU, SAME HAS HAPPENED TO ME EXCEPT I HAVE MY OWN TRUCK AND OWN BUSINESS, MY LICENSE WAS SUSPENDED, BECAUSE I REFUSED TO TAKE A TEST, HOW LONG WAS THE SAP PROCESS UNTIL YOU WERE ABLE TO DRIVE AGAIN? I ONLY SMOKED MARIJUANA, NOTHING ELSE.,

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  6. I couldn’t agree more with all these comments, smoking weed is a much healthier alternative too drinking or using hard “legal” drugs, weed is not a drug, it’s a plant put here on Gods green earth for us to use as we see fit! Anyone that believes the bs propaganda that has been around for almost the last century needs to wake the hell up or better yet mind they’re own damn business, we have the right too enjoy ourselves in our own time, I’m a father of three children, a veteran and a hard working tax paying citizen that respects the rights and saftey of others, like many other drivers out there I have medical problems that marijuana treats my symptoms better than anything I’ve tried! Unfortunately I have to deal with my pain like everyone else due to a fear of some asshole texting or driving impaired that may commit idiot suicide using my tractor as the weapon! To think we don’t have to cause the accident yet end up in jail then court being sued for THC in our system from the night before, even though after smoking the night before we are well rested and ready for business up and running early in the morning usually before the average drunk is passing out!!! Sad! And to answer the question about getting your license you will be fine, just landing a job will be the tough part due too strict DOT regulations and presceen drug test, no urinalysis for your license, there will be a screening for your medical card, I could have melted the cup on mine but they are only checking for state of health, unless it’s your future employer pasting for it, if so unfortunately you’ll have to clean up!

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  7. I been a truck driver for many years. And unfortunately back pain comes with it.i am looking for something for pain.i am afraid if i started smoking for the pain .when iam not driving. I won’t lose my CDL. I can’t afford to do so.but i can’t fine anything to help me with back pain. .dept of transportation has the saying of our lives when it comes to us truck drivers. ..

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    • Containerport in Garfield heights ohio let’s their drivers smoke weed and drink till three hours before they drive on Monday morning they need to text every week without letting them know that way drivers can not prepare odor should be notified example on physicals

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    • Cbd oil is an active ingredient in weed and is legal and also isnt tested for. Cbd’s are great for pain and anxiety most head shops sell it

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  8. I will hire cannabis users over alcoholics all day long. Too many issues with alcoholics, the only issue I have with the cannabis users is that I can’t keep the vending machines full, which is not a bad thing. After a holiday weekend or any weekend when my drivers come back, it’s always the alcoholics that I don’t know if they will make it in and if they do they look like they fell asleep under their truck, and they are not in the best of moods coming back. Why is this not being discussed? The cannabis users come back refreshed and ready to go not all hung over. We in the trucking industry should start turning away our paety drivers which put a bigger hazzard on the road than cannabis users. A hung over driver has no response time and is grumpy. I have had to only send the drinkers home due to not being able to drive. The trucking industry is under old laws, old laws that were creating by people that had vested interests of the time. Now we have been stuck with laws that are no longer relevant.

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    • Can you send me info on how to get in touch with you? My girlfriend has her CDL’s and drives a school bus and smoked on her summer break and got tested last week and was dirty and she will know in a day or 2 if she will lose her job even though it is legal to smoke here and will more than likely have to find a new job. It was 6 weeks since she smoked and it still showed up dirty and she really likes driving and she don’t know what she will do if she can’t get another job with her CDL’s after having them for almost 10 years.

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    • Really? Let me work for u .. I haven’t smoked since I got my license in June but I can’t pass a test and so desperately need and want experience! Please get in touch with me ..

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      • Its important to me to prove to the children that it is ok to try for something and change yourself along the way..

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    • Are you hiring drivers now, I have a friend looking for a job ASAP He failed a test doesn’t smoke was around a lot of smokers

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  9. I think all truckers need to stand up for themselves and tell BOTH American and Canadian governments to back off with the controlling of peoples lives… I can’t tell a judge, cop, or anybody else what to do, SO what gives them the right to dictate what others do on their free time.. All smoking truckers need to shut off their trucks and say screw you.. Lets see how these countries survive without groceries, fuel, automobiles, lumber, and everything else truckers haul.. It’s time for everyone to say SCREW YOU…. We’re ‘NOT’ letting you dictate our lives…

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      • Dude, I love it. I partied on Saturday night. Got tested Thursday. Still waiting. I was not high on Monday. WTF. I’ll stand up. It’s bullshit. If I get high on pot, coke, take a Vicodin on Saturday night. I am NOT high on damn Monday. What I do on my own time is none of their business. Yes you do have those assholes that do these drugs while driving. Well, they are retarded. It’s like drinking and driving. I will NOT drink and drive cause I don’t wanna kill someone. This asshole government gotta stop controlling us. Fuck them. What I do on my days off is none of their business.

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  10. We should have rights as hard working tax payer to be able to vote on this matter since there are people out there who sits home all day and live off our taxs and are are able spend it on weed and smoke all day. I also believe there be more people welling to become CDL driver if is wasnt an issue. Im ready to vote for all rights i say if a cop can use it for medical purpose what gives them the right to lock us up he has to be just as sharp or sharper than a CDL driver, they get in high speed chase and are carrying a deadly weapon. “Rights for all”

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  11. I think marijuana needs to be taken off the drug test panel for dot drivers and I find it funny no marijuana but narcotic pain pills they don’t test for. Interesting now tell me there is no big pharm money in Washington HA HA. The federal government needs to stay the hell out of people’s lives. All marijuana does is help pain anxiety and all it leads too is food.

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  12. So if i.have my cdl and only get called to drive a rig every blue moon but get called in for a random dot drug test I could either loss my job or class a?

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  13. In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.

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  14. Had a couple of tokes outside of a bar after drinking too much on St. Patrick’s day and not thinking straight. I got tested the next day almost 24 hours after smoking. Two days later I get called into the office at work. Got my job threatened, forced leave of absence, lost pay, forced to go to a psychiatrist to determine how much of an addiction I have, then forced to intrude on a Narcotics Anonymous gathering of unfortunate people with legitimate drug problems and falsely introduce myself as an addict, then 6 random WITNESSED urine tests at a methadone clinic in an unsavory area of the city. I wasn’t allowed to return to work until I could test clean(3 weeks) Not to mention missing out on a promotion that I otherwise would have gotten. I undoubtedly had co-workers talking about me behind my back and judging me. It was extremely nerve racking and embarrassing. I was lucky enough to keep my job though, thanks to my union president going to bat for me. Law abiding, tax paying, hard working people should not have to go through all that B.S. because of something that should never have been illegal in the first place. Enough is enough! They need to come up with a way to test for actual marijuana impairment. Professional drivers deserve the same rights as all citizens and shouldn’t have to worry about jeopardizing their job because of something they put in their body during their own free time.

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