Marijuana Laws Continue to Persecute Legal Truck Drivers


Photo by Jeff W on Unsplash

A little over two years ago, FMCSA implemented a disastrous policy that took thousands of drivers off the road – the Clearinghouse policy. Right as COVID upended American society and right before the supply chain become a national crisis, the FMCSA saw fit to increase the draconian drug enforcement against the country’s truck drivers.

This policy would require more truck drivers to undergo random drug and alcohol testing. Drivers that failed these tests would then be entered into the Clearinghouse online database, where their records are searchable by potential trucking company employers. The records last for at least five years.

The Result of the Clearinghouse Policy…

According to the Clearinghouse’s own website as part of the FMCSA, the policy continues to take more and more drivers off the road. As of April 2022, 10,276 commercial drivers tested positive for marijuana use, a 32%+ increase year-over-year.

The problem, of course, is that marijuana is legal in many states. Medicinal marijuana is legal in 37 states, and recreational pot is legal in 18 states.

The testing of marijuana, specifically of metabolites, is also flawed. Metabolites can stay in the human system long after the effects of marijuana have worn off. An FMCSA test for metabolites can show a positive for a driver that is under no influence of the drug at all.

Essentially, a truck driver can be off-duty, take marijuana in a US state where the drug is entirely legal, and then next week be penalized and lose their job.

This is not a fringe libertarian issue either. The FMCSA marijuana policy has been criticized in the press and across the aisle.

Politco wrote the following:

Washington’s zero-tolerance approach to weed has swept up drivers who lit up only when off-duty, as well as those who consumed hemp derivatives such as CBD oil that are advertised as non-psychoactive, according to industry experts and court documents.”

The Drug Enforcement Agency currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD. Schedule I drugs mean that the federal government recognizes no accepted medical use and considers them a high risk for drug abuse.

Considering marijuana as such an extreme danger, to the driver and to society, will continue to ensnare drivers who have zero intention of ever driving while high.

Where Is Marijuana Legal?

Because truck drivers pass through many states, while parking and sleeping in different states on different days of the week, it’s even more difficult for them to keep up with each state’s law.

To show the absurdity of this, let’s take a look at where marijuana is legal.

Medical marijuana is legal in:

Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Recreational marijuana is legal in:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

The Clearinghouse policy has been a failure. It’s time for reform for the sake of our nation’s truck drivers. The engine the US economy is at stake.