Press Release

Marijuana Reclassification Must Account for Highway Safety Risks Says Trucking Industry

May 16, 2024

Marijuana and alcohol remain the most detected drugs in impaired driving incidents leading to serious or fatal injuries

Washington — The American Trucking Associations is calling attention to the negative consequences for highway safety and safety-sensitive industries that could result from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s proposal to reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug. In anticipation of the proposed rule that was announced today, ATA sent a letter yesterday to express these concerns to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.  
ATA is alarmed by the possibility that this reclassification could prohibit certain industries from screening for marijuana use by workers performing safety-sensitive roles. The absence of a reliable standard for marijuana impairment makes it all the more critical for motor carriers to have visibility into marijuana usage. If the trucking and broader transportation industries’ ability to conduct drug testing for marijuana use is restricted, the risk of impaired drivers operating on our nation’s roadways undetected would increase, endangering all who share the road.
“ATA believes that it is vitally important that your agencies ensure an ongoing allowance for marijuana testing of safety-sensitive workers to avoid deterioration of highway safety,” wrote American Trucking Associations Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Safety Policy Dan Horvath. “If this rulemaking is permitted to move forward without appropriate regulatory review, oversight and deliberation, ATA is concerned that it will severely curtail the ability of motor carriers and other employers of safety-sensitive positions to maintain a safe working environment, threatening the safety of all road users.”
These threats to safety are not merely hypothetical. Marijuana and alcohol remain the most detected drugs in impaired driving incidents leading to serious or fatal injuries. State-level marijuana legalization has been linked to an uptick in crashes.  
Current DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements are governed – and therefore limited in their testing authority – by HHS’ Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, which allow regulated employers to test only for those drugs listed in Schedule I or II of the CSA. Therefore, without additional action, deregulation or rescheduling of marijuana would have the likely consequence of precluding testing for all professional drivers and transportation workers as part of the DOT testing program.
Read ATA’s full letter here.