ATA asks DOT about its position on possible reclassification of marijuana

Marijuana joint

The American Trucking Associations Thursday, June 20, sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as part of the organization's opposition to the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposal to reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug.  

The association said in its letter this policy shift could have what it called "significant negative consequences for highway safety, endangering all who share the road." ATA said it is asking Buttigieg to share whether the Department of Transportation will maintain the authority and means to conduct testing of marijuana use by commercial motor vehicle drivers and other safety-sensitive transportation workers.

Without this guarantee, industries that must screen workers performing safety-sensitive roles would operate under a cloud of uncertainty, according to the ATA. If the trucking and broader transportation industries’ ability to conduct drug testing for marijuana use is restricted, said the ATA, a heightened risk of impaired drivers threatens the nation’s roadways.  

The absence of a reliable standard for marijuana impairment – in alignment with blood alcohol content measures for alcohol impairment – makes it all the more vital for motor carriers to have visibility into marijuana usage, according to the ATA.

“…[I]t is critical for transportation safety that we maintain the scope and scrutiny of testing that currently exists for individuals engaged in safety-sensitive industries, including commercial trucking, bussing, airlines, and rail,” wrote American Trucking Associations Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Safety Policy Dan Horvath.  “While ATA does not maintain a formal position on marijuana legalization or the ongoing testing of non-safety sensitive employees under HHS’s Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, we remain concerned about the broad public health and safety consequences of reclassification on the national highway system and its users.

“Though ATA understands that the process and content of DOJ’s rulemaking falls outside the purview of DOT, we believe DOT and ATA share the goals of achieving zero highway fatalities and ensuring the commercial driving workforce is qualified to safely operate on our nation’s roadways.”

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Marijuana and alcohol remain the most detected drugs in impaired driving crashes resulting in serious or fatal injuries, according to the ATA.