DOT just says no to changing drug policy for new state marijuana laws

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“We have had several inquiries about whether these state initiatives will have an impact upon the Department of Transportation’s longstanding regulation about the use of marijuana by safety‐sensitive transportation employees – 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,” Stewart said in a statement. 
 
“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,” he continued. “The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40 – does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason.”

With that in mind, Stewart said the DOT's drug testers would not take into account whether marijuana that is detected in transportation workers was consumed in states where it is now legal.

“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,” he said.  “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.”

Stewart said it was important for DOT to clarify its drug policy because “[W]e want to assure the traveling public that our transportation system is the safest it can possibly be.”