The Department of Transportation Stands Firm on Marijuana Drug Testing Compliance

The Department of Transportation Stands Firm on Marijuana Drug Testing Compliance

By Robert Capwell

Department of TransportationThis election year included the passage of state legislation relating to the recreational use of marijuana.  As many of you know, Washington and Colorado have passed laws that permit the “recreational” use of the drug.  It is still unclear how state legislation in these two states will affect the enforcement of employer drug testing policies.  Employers operating in Washington and Colorado should consult their legal counsel for further guidance on these specific state law changes and how they relate to their drug testing policies.  EBI will continue to monitor these changes and provide additional information as it becomes available.  For an additional reference, you can visit for information regarding specific states laws pertaining to recreational and medical marijuana use.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has been fielding several inquiries around the impact of DOT compliance and 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.

Jim Swart, Director, Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy Compliance, wants to make it perfectly clear that state initiatives have no bearing on DOT’s regulated drug testing program.  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. According to Director Swart, “It remains unacceptable for any safety‐sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana. We want to assure the traveling public that our transportation system is the safest it can possibly be.  Therefore, 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.  We also firmly reiterate that an MRO will not verify a drug test as negative based upon information that a physician recommended that the employee use “medical marijuana” when states have passed “medical marijuana” initiatives.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 Drug.  This means that marijuana is a substance classified under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and included within the schedule.  By definition, these drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use for treatment within the United States.

At EBI, we offer a wide variety of options when it comes to DOT and Non-DOT drug and alcohol testing programs, including pre-employment, random, post-accident and mobile collection options.  With vast expertise and knowledge, EBI can help you develop or enhance your drug testing program to meet your specific objectives.

Employment Background Investigations, Inc. is committed to providing employers with valuable education and resources on changing legislation as well as cutting-edge and compliant solutions to meet federal, state, local and international mandatory requirements. If you found this information useful, select the button listed below to access more industry news, resources and tips from EBI, an NAPBS Accredited screening firm and global leader in the background screening industry.

All information contained herein is provided by Employment Background Investigations, Inc. (EBI), and is solely for the convenience of our readers.  EBI is not providing legal advice or counsel and nothing provided within this document should be deemed as legal guidance or advice.  Readers should consult with their own legal counsel to determine their legal responsibilities or if they have questions on any information provided by EBI.

About the Author

Robert Capwell

Robert Capwell

EBI’s Chief Knowledge Officer, Mr. Robert E. Capwell, is considered one of the leading experts in the background screening industry with over 22 years of experience in the field. Mr. Capwell was a contributing author of the second edition of the ASIS Pre-employment Background Screening Guidelines and has written numerous articles and whitepapers for various publications including a periodic column on background screening for The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Online. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Human Resource Executive Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and several HR-related publications. Mr. Capwell speaks regularly to industry colleagues and HR Professionals both nationally and internationally.

One thought on “The Department of Transportation Stands Firm on Marijuana Drug Testing Compliance

  1. This is indeed good news. I’m pretty sure these changes would be for the better. DOT drug testing is absolutely a great way to ensure safety of the transportation employees and to the travelling public as well. Thanks! 

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