The support for the legalization of marijuana, both for recreational and medical use, is a hot topic of discussion today. While marijuana is now legal in many states throughout America, it is causing questions and concerns for many different types of businesses, especially those that are regulated by Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines, like Florida’s trucking industry.
Since the Federal Drug Administration still has ultimate power over federal marijuana laws, there are many unanswered questions for CDL holders including those about transporting legal marijuana into states where it is not legal, and whether Florida truck drivers are allowed to own a medical marijuana card while they also hold a commercial driver’s license.
The lines are blurred when it comes to the legality of marijuana…
While the recent legalization of marijuana has brought a new opportunity to the trucking industry for its freight transportation, it is presenting greater challenges for Florida trucking companies as well as commercial driving schools when it comes to the drug testing of the drivers.
Although recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and medical marijuana is legal in 29, it is still considered to be a Schedule I narcotic, which means that it is illegal to consume, sell, or possess in the U.S. Due to the recent legalization in some states, trucking companies as well as other industries have seen a spike in failed drug tests, which is effecting their business as well as the livelihood of drivers.
Despite marijuana being legal in many states, the U.S. Department of Transportation strictly prohibits the use of marijuana by any ‘safety-sensitive’ employee no matter whether it is legal in their home state or not. This means that if a Florida truck driver legally consumes marijuana in Colorado, they could still be at risk of being terminated due to the federal classification of marijuana as a narcotic. Florida trucking companies and commercial driving schools have been put in unprecedented situations due to this unusual predicament of blurred lines.
Is marijuana legalization causing truck drivers to lose their jobs?
The short answer is no, but their choice to consume it is.
Since they are regulated by Department of Transportation guidelines, Florida trucking companies follow the “zero tolerance” policy when dealing with drugs, even if it was consumed in state where it is legal on the state level. This means that even drivers who have a medical marijuana prescription to consume pot “legally” are still at risk of being terminated. The Florida trucking industry agrees with the argument that marijuana’s legality in a state does not override federal law, and more importantly, safety concerns. Since the recent legalization marijuana, even truck drivers with good safety records and long careers in the industry have lost their have lost their jobs due to their legal medical/recreational marijuana use.
DOT regulations concerning marijuana
According to the DOT’s regulations, any truck driver who tests positive for marijuana must be terminated, whether it was legally consumed or not. In fact, because marijuana can stay in your system for up to 30 days, drivers could fail a drug test even if they were not under the influence during testing or while they were actually driving. According to the law and DOT regulations, any truck driver with even the smallest trace of marijuana in their system are considered to be impaired.
The trucking industry pays the cost for legalization
The recent and continued legalization in some U.S. states has also created a huge monetary issue for the Florida trucking industry. Their bottom line is being impacted due to the increased need for drug testing, which is an additional added expense. These companies must pay additional costs for more accurate drug testing to enforce their “zero tolerance” policy. These more frequent drug tests, combined with the additional costs of replacing and training new employees to take the place of drivers who test positive is substantial in increasing the cost to companies in the Florida trucking industry. Those increased costs ultimately get passed on to the consumer.
Although there is not yet a clear answer to how large of an impact the legalization of marijuana is having on the trucking industry, it is clear that it is significant for everyone.