May 3, 2024

DOT Safety Alarm: Potential changes to marijuana restrictions may result in unintended serious safety concerns for the US traveling public.

By Guest Contributer

Courtesy of American Substance Abuse Professionals

AP News reports that the US Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify  marijuana as a less dangerous drug. Reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug creates medical and research opportunities but will have unintended consequences that could result in truck drivers, school bus drivers, pilots, train engineers and conductors under the influence of marijuana while on duty.

The reclassification could automatically remove marijuana from the DOT testing panel unless there is a specific regulatory exemption for DOT safety-sensitive employees (described in the industry as a DOT Safety Carve Out.)  In the last four years, over 144,000 commercial drivers tested positive for marijuana.  This does not include flight crew members, aircraft maintenance, train conductors or bus drivers. Surveys reveal that 1 in 4 people who use marijuana get high at work.  Currently the technology to prove real-time marijuana impairment does not exist. There is no marijuana impairment test equivalent to a roadside alcohol test. In the absence of DOT testing for marijuana or a valid real-time test there is no protection for the traveling public from impaired operators.

Safety is our concern. Until the research provides a conclusive real-time test that proves impairment, Federal DOT marijuana testing of transportation employees is our only line of defense. We understand that a change in the DOT drug testing panel would be an unintended result of the reclassification process, but it is a dangerous oversight. Marijuana use was a factor in the infamous 1987 train collision that killed 15 people, injured 197 others, and contributed to the implementation of DOT drug testing.  We don’t want anyone to be on the train, plane, bus, or automobile that has a catastrophic accident as a result of this oversight.  As a society, we have an obligation to ensure the safety of the traveling public and not roll back the hard-won gains made in the prevention of substance related impairment in the transportation industry.

JOIN US IN RAISING AWARENESS ABOUT THIS POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION BY SPREADING THE WORD!