As more states continue to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana, there are growing questions on the impact this will have on the trucking industry. Weed has already been decriminalized in 37 states, with an increasing number of states hopping on the trend. So, what’s the future going to look like – can truckers smoke weed without facing legal consequences?
Although the substance is flourishing in popularity, and being embraced by many sectors, the transportation industry still isn’t budging when it comes to truckers smoking weed. It is a tricky topic because, while weed is legal for medical and recreational use in many states, it is still illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substance Act. Those who want to continue working as a truck driver are left to wonder how a positive THC drug test will affect their career. Trucker 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. Marijuana and truck drivers have been a hot-button issue over the last few years. Let’s take a look!
Everything You Want to Know: Can Truckers Smoke Weed?
Marijuana and truck drivers: Can truckers smoke weed in places where it is legal to do so?
The Department of Transportation’s Office (DOT) of Drug and Alcohol Policy remains resolute in its regulations regarding truckers smoking weed. Even though medical marijuana is legal in over half the United States, the federal government still has it listed as a Schedule 1 substance. This places it in the same category as incredibly harmful drugs like heroin. Schedule I drugs are, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, “…drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” So even though the U.S. is moving to legalize weed on a state level, industries such as trucking don’t benefit because they are highly regulated at the federal level. No matter what state you’re in, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana.
Truckers (that want to keep their job) can’t take part in smoking weed Until marijuana is removed from the Controlled Substance Act as a Schedule 1 drug. If a truck driver fails a drug test, Medical Review Officers will not tolerate the results even if he or she has a valid medical marijuana prescription card.
As marijuana legalization takes the country by storm, major trucking organizations are left in a tricky position. With the high turnover rate in the industry in past years, many are arguing that that the strict anti-marijuana policies are effectively preventing an entire group of potential drivers from entering the industry.
What happens when truckers fail a drug test for marijuana use?
Even though truckers do not have to worry about the law (if they’re in a state that has legalized weed), they do have to worry about their employer. Let’s say a trucker tests positive on a drug test for THC, the chemical in weed responsible for the psychological effects of the drug. Regardless of the circumstances, their employer should terminate them based on DOT’s regulations. The substance is on its way to being fully legalized throughout the United States, so many truckers view this as unfair.. This essentially prevents truckers from ever using marijuana recreationally, or for medicinal purposes despite scientific proof that it is an effective form of alternative medicine.
If a truck driver smoked weed legally in their home state on a Friday, they could still fail a drug test on Monday and be fired from their job immediately. THC stays in your system much longer than alcohol, allowing it to show up in drug tests days or weeks later. A daily smoker will have traceable amounts of THC in their system for up to a month. So even if you aren’t high on the job, you can still be released from work if you fail the drug test days later. The law considers truck drivers with any trace of marijuana in their system as impaired. Truck drivers who choose to smoke and drive risk losing their jobs and receiving a DUI.
Can truckers transport weed across state lines?
Despite the fact that weed may be legal in one state, it remains illegal for truck drivers to transport marijuana across state lines. And the consequences are severe with federal criminal prosecution. However, within each state, the rules may differ. If you work in a state that has legalized marijuana, then you can transport the substance. But only if you have a license to transport through the business you’re working for. Each state has distinct laws and regulations so be extremely careful to check (and then double check) that you are complying with all rules. And, of course, avoid all state lines!
As you probably guessed, it is definitely illegal to transport weed in states that have yet to legalize pot in any way, shape, or form.
How does marijuana use impair driving?
It doesn’t come as a surprise to hear that it’s dangerous to drive while under the influence. While marijuana affects people differently than other substances, like alcohol, it’s still a bad idea to get behind the wheel. Especially if you’re hauling a large truck.
When on the road, you need to be functioning with a clear mind to keep you and the other drivers safe. However, marijuana affects the body’s motor and cognitive skills. Your judgment and reaction time will be delayed, your motor control will be limited, and you’ll struggle to concentrate. Not ideal when you are operating a large vehicle!
But remember, this is only true if you smoke weed immediately before hopping in your truck. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, marijuana can impair your driving skills for more than 3 hours. So, if you choose to use marijuana on your days off, you won’t feel the effects when you clock in for your shift.
This remains a hot topic, and rightfully so. States and the federal government are on opposing sides of the argument, leaving truckers hanging in the middle. Can truckers smoke weed? Legally no. But many may choose to do so if their state has legalized it, risking the chance of being randomly selected for drug testing. It comes down to how high of risk you’re willing to run to get high!
How do you feel about truckers smoking weed? We’d love to hear your opinion on this topic! Let us know in the comments.