In a June 27 congressional hearing, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said his agency believes that a recent Drug Enforcement Agency proposal to reschedule marijuana will not directly affect the trucking industry’s ability to screen drivers and other safety-sensitive workers for marijuana.

During a House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure hearing, Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas), asked about the proposal to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

“The rescheduling and deregulation of marijuana would inevitably cause a number of people driving impaired while high,” Crawford said.

“Mr. Secretary, I think it’s safe to assume the number of all impaired drivers on our roadways would increase… can you speak to what your department is doing to ensure the transportation workers in safety reliant positions can continue to be tested for marijuana use if this proposal goes forward and how your department plans to address transportation safety in light of DOJ’s rulemaking?”

Buttigieg answered that “any impaired driving, be it alcohol, marijuana or any other sources of impairment, is of course a major safety concern.

“Our understanding of the rescheduling of marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 is that it would not alter DOT’s marijuana testing requirements with respect to the regulated community, for private individuals who are performing safety-sensitive functions subject to drug testing.

“Marijuana is referred to by name, not by reference to one of those classes, so even if it moves in its classification, we do not believe it would have a direct impact on that authority,” he said.

“We’re continuing to evaluate any indirect impacts it might have.”

Trucking's Concerns About Rescheduling Marijuana

The American Trucking Associations has been raising alarms about the potential impact of marijuana reclassification on drug testing in trucking since the proposal was published.

“If the trucking industry’s ability to conduct drug testing for marijuana use were to be restricted, a heightened risk of impaired drivers would threaten our nation’s roadways,” said American Trucking Associations President & CEO Chris Spear in a news release following the hearing.  

ATA pointed out that 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. 

Testing Methods Still in Limbo

Meanwhile, this isn't the only issue affecting truck driver drug testing.

Citing his work in previous legislation regarding trucking safety, including measures related to truck driver drug testing, Crawford in his question also complained that the Department of Health and Human Services “continues to fail to implement” a hair-testing requirement of the FAST Act.

“I’m going to continue to remind them to do their job.”

And although the DOT issued a rule allowing the use of oral fluid testing more than a year ago, there still are no drug-testing labs certified to do so.

About the author
Staff Writer

Staff Writer


Our team of enterprising editors brings years of experience covering the fleet industry. We offer a deep understanding of trends and the ever-evolving landscapes we cover in fleet, trucking, and transportation.  

View Bio