Don’t roll those joints just yet, truckers and pilots.
Pot-smokers rejoiced on Election Day when Colorado and Washington state residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana use and let individuals 21 or older have up to an ounce of pot without repercussion. But the Department of Transportation isn’t smoking that peace pipe.
DOT’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance, in a one-page notice posted Monday, said that recreational marijuana use is not exempt from testing rules that govern safety-sensitive positions already subject to strict drug and alcohol screening.
“We want to make it perfectly clear that the state initiatives will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program,” the notice says.
The feds have said that national law trumps any state laws on drug use, and medical marijuana dispensaries have been raided even in states and localities where it is legal. DOT does not recognize either recreational or medical use of the Schedule I drug.
“Medical Review Officers (MROs) will not verify a drug test as negative based upon learning that the employee used ‘recreational marijuana’ when states have passed ‘recreational marijuana’ initiatives,” the DOT notice says. “We also firmly reiterate that an MRO will not verify a drug test negative based upon information that a physician recommended that the employee use ‘medical marijuana’ when states have passed ‘medical marijuana’ initiatives.”
A number of transportation workers are subject to both random and post-accident drug and alcohol screening. DOT says the list includes “pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, subway operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, transit fire-armed security personnel, ship captains, and pipeline emergency response personnel, among others.”