In November of 2018 Missouri joined the growing list of states (33 in total) to legalize Marijuana. This summer (projected by July 2019) you will be able to apply for a Marijuana card that will allow you to purchase marijuana legally for approved medicinal uses with a prescription from a Doctor in Missouri. With these new developments in Missouri, our phone has been ringing with questions from CDL drivers and Trucking company Owners and Operators in regards to how the changing laws impact their drug testing programs.
Here is a summary of the most common questions you need to know the answers to.
Q: If I am driving through a state that has legalized marijuana for recreational use. Can I use the drug recreationally when I’m off duty?
Q: If I have a medical marijuana prescription or card, will I be allowed to have a positive test result for THC if I have a legitimate medical reason for the test that can be confirmed by the MRO?
The short answer is NO!
The DOT, Department of Transportation has made it very clear that marijuana is still illegal under federal law and that they do not recognize individual state laws regarding marijuana.
The DOT has taken a stand against the legalization of Marijuana since the inception of legalization and it does not look like they will be changing this stance any time soon.
“We want to make it perfectly clear that the DOJ guidelines will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program. We will not change our regulated drug testing program based upon these guidelines to Federal prosecutors. The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40, at 40.151(e) – does not authorize “medical marijuana” under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result,” the DOT said in a statement.
That section states:
- 40.151 What are MROs prohibited from doing as part of the verification process?
As an MRO, you are prohibited from doing the following as part of the verification process:
(e) You must not verify a test negative based on information that a physician recommended that the employee use a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. (e.g., under a state law that purports to authorize such recommendations, such as the “medical marijuana” laws that some states have adopted.)
Therefore, Medical Review Officers will not verify a drug test as negative based upon information that a physician recommended that the employee use “medical marijuana.” Please note that marijuana remains a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. It remains unacceptable for any safety‐sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.
This communication from the DOT is very clear. Marijuana use is not allowed. With Zero tolerance. The DOT is committed to assuring the traveling public that our transportation system is the safest it can possibly be and they believe Marijuana use of any kind by safety sensitive employees compromises that safety.
The Last question we get asked is….
Q: If I use Marijuana, how long will it show up in a DOT drug test?
The length of time THC or its metabolites will show up in a drug test depends on how much or often you use and the type of or potency of the marijuana. Whether you inhale or eat it can also impact the length of time it takes your body to clear the THC from your system. Marijuana these days can be much more potent and have significantly more THC than in the past. Yes, a first time or single use will definitely show up in a drug test. Additionally, we have seen individuals test positive for THC up to 60-days past their last reported use. If you test positive for THC, you will be taken off the road immediately and referred to the SAP program.
In summary, Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug by the United States Controlled Substances Act, and the DOT forbids its use. CDL drivers and safety sensitive employees are not allowed to have it in their systems at any time. So…you and all of your employees should steer clear of marijuana use of any type.