Press Release

Trucking Industry Urges DOT to Mitigate Safety Risks Posed by Marijuana Reclassification

Jun 20, 2024

Washington — Today, the American Trucking Associations sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as part of an ongoing effort to raise the alarm about the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposal to reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug.  This major policy shift could have significant negative consequences for highway safety, endangering all who share the road.
ATA is asking Secretary Buttigieg to share whether the U.S. Department of Transportation will maintain the authority and means to conduct testing of marijuana use by commercial motor vehicle drivers and other safety-sensitive transportation workers.
Without this guarantee, industries that must screen workers performing safety-sensitive roles would operate under a cloud of uncertainty.  If the trucking and broader transportation industries’ ability to conduct drug testing for marijuana use is restricted, a heightened risk of impaired drivers threatens our nation’s roadways.  The absence of a reliable standard for marijuana impairment – in alignment with blood alcohol content measures for alcohol impairment – makes it all the more vital for motor carriers to have visibility into marijuana usage.  
“…[I]t is critical for transportation safety that we maintain the scope and scrutiny of testing that currently exists for individuals engaged in safety-sensitive industries, including commercial trucking, bussing, airlines, and rail,” wrote American Trucking Associations Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Safety Policy Dan Horvath.  “While ATA does not maintain a formal position on marijuana legalization or the ongoing testing of non-safety sensitive employees under HHS’s Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, we remain concerned about the broad public health and safety consequences of reclassification on the national highway system and its users.” 
“Though ATA understands that the process and content of DOJ’s rulemaking falls outside the purview of DOT, we believe DOT and ATA share the goals of achieving zero highway fatalities and ensuring the commercial driving workforce is qualified to safely operate on our nation’s roadways.”
Marijuana and alcohol remain the most detected drugs in impaired driving crashes resulting in serious or fatal injuries.  Between 2000 and 2018, crash deaths involving marijuana more than doubled, from 9% to 21.5%.  Immediately following Canada’s 2018 legalization of marijuana, the country’s emergency rooms saw a 94% increase in the rate of marijuana-involved traffic injuries.  
The correspondence to Secretary Buttigieg is part of a sustained advocacy push by ATA to mitigate any potential harmful impacts that could result from the reclassification of marijuana.  Last month, ATA sent a letter regarding this issue to the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Transportation.
Read ATA’s full letter to Secretary Buttigieg here.