Trucker’s Drug Charge Raises Questions Regarding CDL Owners And Marijuana Use!

Trucker's Drug Charge Raises Questions Regarding CDL Owners And Marijuana Use!

One recent court ruling underscores concerns regarding cannabis use among those with commercial driver’s licenses as state marijuana regulations change quickly. The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld a trucker’s marijuana possession conviction on January 11. The driver, Darryl Hurtt, had a medical card that allowed him to legally purchase marijuana in his native Missouri.

Police records state that when Hurtt’s truck was pulled over in September 2021 for a weight infraction, the officers smelled marijuana emanating from the cab. Hurtt presented a small charred “blunt” and three more blunts in a glasses case when questioned about the smell.

Hurtt said he only had the amount of marijuana given to him and gave authorities his Missouri medicinal marijuana license as proof. Hurtt requested for the charges to be dropped, claiming that his “medical prescription necessitates him to have his medication with him owing to the conditions of his employment and not being home every night,” according to court filings.

Trucker's Drug Charge Raises Questions Regarding CDL Owners And Marijuana Use!

In addition, he claimed that his “freedom of movement would be violated” if he couldn’t transport his medical marijuana via other states. The burden, according to Hurtt’s counsel, is on him to either select a different line of work, risk losing his job, or decide not to take the medication that a doctor had recommended for him. Hurtt shouldn’t be forced to choose which is more significant to him.

He is legally entitled to both of those benefits when he is only traveling through a state by car. Despite acknowledging the state’s laws, the court determined that Darryl Hurtt “did not possess any of these four goods” and stated that it was not persuaded that Hurtt’s ability to enter or leave the state was directly harmed by the state’s control over the banned substances.

Trucker's Drug Charge Raises Questions Regarding CDL Owners And Marijuana Use!

Currently, medical cannabis products are legal to consume in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Furthermore, laws governing the use of marijuana for adult recreational purposes have been passed in 21 states and Washington, D.C. Cannabis is still categorized by the federal government’s Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I restricted substance, despite the fact that states keep passing new laws governing its use.

Since marijuana is a Schedule I restricted substance, a person who takes it “is not physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle,” according to current Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration standards. Despite the rules, it is understandable how different state laws could be confusing to certain drivers.

Trucker's Drug Charge Raises Questions Regarding CDL Owners And Marijuana Use!

The Association’s drug and alcohol consortium, OOIDA’s Consortium Management Co. Inc., aids drivers in understanding the process of required drug and alcohol testing. The manager of CMCI, FaLisa McCannon, claims that the “can I or can’t I” dilemma actually has a rather clear-cut solution. Regardless of the laws in your state, smoking marijuana is still not acceptable if you have a CDL and you’re operating a DOT truck anyplace in the United States, McCannon told Land Line Now.

A positive drug test could be in the future for those who choose to disregard the such warning, which would have major repercussions. Any positive test is first reported to the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, which businesses and government organizations can view for three years. Drivers with reported offenses will be marked as forbidden by the system.

Trucker's Drug Charge Raises Questions Regarding CDL Owners And Marijuana Use!

Second, individuals who fall under the category of a prohibited driver must enroll in the Substance Abuse Professionals program run by the U.S. DOT. According to McCannon, this is a drawn-out process that will cost the person a lot of money. At least six months have passed. Usually, you must pay a fee to hire a (substance addiction professional) counselor.

Then there are fees associated with each exam that the SAP counselor arranges for you, according to McCannon. Additionally, they charge a somewhat higher cost because testing must be viewed at the collection site, requiring the collector to watch the specimen being created and analyzed immediately after. In other words, you’re basically paying a lot more money for one or two hits on the joint or even one edible.

McCannon says CMCI estimates the Substance Abuse Professional program will cost an individual around $4,000 to $6,000. On top of that, she says drivers could be further financially affected by additional fines, missed time behind the wheel, and possible loss of future opportunities for being marked as a prohibited driver.

Trucker's Drug Charge Raises Questions Regarding CDL Owners And Marijuana Use!

The movement toward some kind of federal reform appears to be underway as state marijuana laws continue to change. President Joe Biden requested in October 2022 that the attorney general and the secretary of Health and Human Services “initiate the administrative process to evaluate swiftly how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.”

The laws limiting cannabis usage among CDL holders state that any modifications to the current policy are “going to take a while,” despite the White House’s apparent desire to act quickly. Joe Sentef, the chief medical adviser for FMCSA, stated at a recent meeting of the Medical Review Board Advisory Committee that any prospective policy changes would require cooperation from a number of agencies.

Trucker's Drug Charge Raises Questions Regarding CDL Owners And Marijuana Use!

It will be a very slow process, and an agreement between FMCSA, CVSA, HHS, and the White House is required, so I don’t see it occurring right now, he said. “Anything in regards to marijuana would have to alter if all four were on the same route.”

While we wait for those potential changes to materialize, McCannon has some advice for drivers. “Just refuse. It has to do with the field. The goal is to keep the roads secure, she said. “Keeping the roadways safe from individuals who use illegal or illicit narcotics is our No. 1 objective here.” LL

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