Medical Marijuana and the CDL Driver
As of today, 30 states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. With so many states easing restrictions on the use of marijuana the question has been asked “how does this impact the commercial driver?” Quite simply, it doesn’t. CMV drivers must adhere to the federal regulations regarding the use of marijuana regardless of any state law to the contrary. In other words, Federal law supersedes state law in this matter.
Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug by the Federal Government. This means that it is determined to have (1) no medical value; and (2) a high chance for abuse. While this may eventually change I do not see it happening anytime soon. For a drug to be removed from Schedule I status, testing must show the drug has proven medical benefits. This is generally done through large-scale clinical trials. However, since Schedule I drugs are heavily regulated it is difficult to conduct these trials. As a result, medical marijuana finds itself in a bit of a bit of a catch 22 scenario. Without the trials it is hard to show medical benefit and Scientists can’t conduct the trials because the drug is so heavily regulated and funding is scarce. What research has been conducted shows that marijuana use: (1) slows reaction times and the learning process; (2) impacts concentration and short-term memory; (3) changes perception of time and the ability to judge distance; and (4) diminishes eye-hand-foot coordination. In light of this, I find it highly unlikely that the medical marijuana use by CMV drivers will ever be allowed. The risk to the motoring public is simply too great.
In conclusion, it does not really matter what state law says regarding medical marijuana. The federal government continues to identify marijuana as an illegal controlled substance with a negative impact on driving ability. As a result, I think we are very long way away from medical marijuana use being allowed for CDL drivers.
J. Bradley Klepper, Esq. is President of Interstate Trucker Ltd., a law firm entirely dedicated to legal defense of the nation's commercial drivers. Interstate Trucker represents truck drivers throughout the forty-eight (48) states on both moving and non-moving violations. Brad is also Executive Vice President & General Counsel of Drivers Legal Plan, which allows member drivers access to his firm’s services at greatly discounted rates. Brad spent almost a decade with the largest law firm in Oklahoma where his practice included extensive experience in transactional law, business defense litigation, and intellectual property. In addition, Brad is a licensed architect and serves as General Counsel to the Oklahoma Board of Architects, Landscape Architects and Interior Designers.Brad has dedicated much of his time to DataQs challenges, which are challenges posed to the FMCSA for CSA incidents, to examine data and reports filed by law enforcement.
800-333-DRIVE (3748) or www.interstatetrucker.com