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No Tokes for Truckers: Marijuana and Truck Drivers

No Tokes for Truckers: Marijuana and Truck Drivers
3.8 10 votes

Despite the fast-growth of support for legal medical marijuana and the decriminalization for selling, using, and buying pot for recreational purposes in some parts of the country; truck drivers still don’t know what the deal is. It is a tricky topic. Some places allow legalization of cannabis on a state level. However, the FDA does have the ultimate say. Also, what is the protocol for CDL holders? Truck drivers want to know if it possible to hold both a valid commercial driving license and a medical marijuana card. What about transporting legal marijuana across state lines into a place where it is not legal?

Can truck drivers smoke marijuana 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. However, it wasn’t until 2012, that DOT even needed to address the issue of marijuana and truck drivers. After Colorado and Washington began legalizing small amounts of recreational marijuana, the question of truck drivers and pot-use started coming up frequently.

The “safety-sensitive” transportation employees who must refrain from (the even legalized medical) marijuana-use include pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, subway operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, transit fire‐armed security personnel, ship captains, and pipeline emergency response personnel, among others. Basically, if truck drivers fail drug tests, Medical Review Officers will not tolerate the results even if you have a valid medical marijuana prescription.

What happens when drivers fail drug tests for marijuana use?

When a driver tests positive for marijuana in their system, regardless the circumstances,  the employer must terminate that employee based off of DOT’s regulations. One issue is that even a driver who smoked legally in their home-state may fail a blood test even if they did not necessarily think they were “impaired” at the time of testing. 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 test due to cannabis in their blood. The law considers truck drivers with any trace of marijuana in their system as impaired.

How does cannabis-use impair driving?

A Canadian study concluded that it was twice as likely for drivers that have used cannabis within a 3 hour period to have an accident than someone who did not.

However, other findings suggest that statistically speaking, habitual marijuana-users are better drivers than non-users. “The hypocrisy of it all is that if you get caught driving under the influence of marijuana, you will be fined and perhaps thrown into jail. What’s worse is that your insurance rates will definitely increase due to the traffic violation,” says JamesShaffer, CEO of 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com.

Another study found that only 30 percent of participants that used marijuana failed field-sobriety tests despite the fact that they were under the influence.

However, all the research is purely just research; it doesn’t mean that the law or DOT have to agree. So what does that mean for truck drivers? Just don’t do it!

Author: Hit The Road Jack

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30 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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  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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  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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  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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