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Marijuana Use on the Rise in Federally Mandated Workers
Mariah Barr
8 mins read

Although marijuana use is legal in numerous states, upholding a drug-free workplace should still be the goal of companies like yours  federally regulated or not. 

Here in late April, we're focusing on a hot topic in the transportation industry: marijuana use.

Data from Quest Diagnostics shows that after five years of steady declines in several drug categories, positivity rates for marijuana use in the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce increased by 8.9% from 2020 to 2021.

Barry Sample, Ph.D., Senior Science Consultant for Quest Diagnostics, said it right: "It is important for workers to know that certain employers are required to test for marijuana under federal law, and if they use marijuana, they can still lose their jobs. People who use drugs during working hours or before work can still be impaired and dangerous to co-workers, the general public, and themselves."

The problem for motor carriers and companies that rely on CDL drivers? The ongoing confusion surrounding whether it's legal for them to partake or not. It’s an issue that will likely continue to worsen as state legalization of the drug sweeps across the country and more adults turn to marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use.

Scroll on to get the answers to the following:

  • Can CDL drivers smoke weed in legal states?
  • Is CBD oil legal for truck drivers?
  • How can I inform my drivers of the laws surrounding marijuana use?
  • What can I do to improve my workplace drug testing after legalization?

Clearing the Air: State v. Federal Marijuana Legalization

Since 2012, 21 US states, along with Washington, D.C. and Guam, have legalized recreational marijuana use. But this is only at the state level.

Marijuana use is still illegal on the federal level. Even if your federally regulated driver has a prescription, they cannot take the drug and continue to drive for your company. This includes DOT and FMCSA regulations, as well as those drivers who work for a federal agency.

That's why federally regulated workers, like CDL drivers, will be placed in "prohibited" status in the DOT Clearinghouse and unable to return to safety-sensitive duties until they've completed the required return-to-duty process if the driver tests positive for marijuana or other illegal substance use.

Positive drug tests are never easy for any employer to deal with, much less those regulated by the DOT. This Foley article dives into what you need to know if your CDL driver produces a non-negative drug test result and how to create a drug-free workplace.

What about CBD oil?

To add to the legality confusion, cannabidiol (CBD) oil continues to gain popularity. The over-the-counter remedy can be used as a natural healing alternative to various ailments, from insomnia to chronic pain. But because the oil is derived from either the hemp or marijuana plant, it can contain low levels of THC. CBD users won’t experience the same “high” as with marijuana; however, the amount of THC in the oil can trigger a positive drug test result – even in oils that are marketed as having “no THC.”

One CDL driver has already filed a lawsuit against a "no THC" CBD gummy candy manufacturer after failing a drug test and losing his job due to traces of THC in the candy he consumed. His story is more common than you may think, with CBD gummies now being sold in numerous truck stops and convenience stores throughout the US.

Educate Your Drivers for a Drug-Free Workplace

As a company that employs DOT-regulated drivers, the best way to maintain a drug-free workplace is to educate your drivers on the implications of using marijuana and CBD oil for the duration of their employment. While both of these substances may be legal to use in the state they live in, even occasional use can result in a positive DOT drug screen, which could jeopardize their career as a commercial motor vehicle driver – both immediately at your company and in future opportunities down the road.

So, what should you do? Advise your drivers to avoid all forms of marijuana and CBD oil while employed as a commercial motor vehicle driver until (if and when) the federal government loosens its restrictions on THC usage. That way, any risk of failing a DOT drug screen due to THC levels in their systems is virtually eliminated.

Operating a drug-free workplace also involves having a DOT-compliant drug and alcohol testing program in place, in which you enroll all CDL drivers in a random testing consortium pool. When your pool is managed correctly, each employee who's enrolled will have the same probability of being selected for testing, ensuring a fair evaluation of any of your drivers' drug or alcohol consumption.

Step Up Your DOT Drug Testing Program

If your random testing consortium isn't so random  meaning it's not a computer-based generator – or you don't have a DOT-compliant testing program in place at all, it's time to find a reliable drug and alcohol testing third-party administrator (TPA) who can handle that and your DOT Clearinghouse compliance. The good news? You've already found Foley.

Our compliance specialists can quickly enroll your drivers in a DOT drug testing program. You'll finally have peace of mind about employing safe drivers, meeting tricky federal regulations, and being well-prepared for inevitable DOT audits.

Just consider this Foley customer's shining review:

We have been using the Foley Services DOT Drug & Alcohol Program for close to a decade. The system is easy to understand, and keeps our company in compliance. When in a pinch, preparing for our 18-month new trucking company Safety Audit, we also used their Audit Assurance Program. We were VERY pleased with their step-by-step help so we could pass the Audit with flying colors!

Whether you're just starting out as a small carrier or you employ hundreds of CDL drivers, Foley's drug and alcohol testing program is ready to work for you. Get an exclusive look at all the types of tests Foley can run on your behalf by scheduling a free software demo appointment. Don't put your DOT drug testing compliance or drug-free workplace at risk; reserve your spot with one of our experts today!

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