DOT Position on Medical Marijuana
This is a letter from Jim L. Swart , Director of the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance dated October 22, 2009:
Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued guidelines for Federal prosecutors in states that have enacted laws authorizing the use of “medical marijuana.” http://www.justice.gov/opa/documents/medical-marijuana.pdf.
We have had several inquiries about whether the DOJ advice to Federal prosecutors regarding pursuing criminal cases 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.
We want to make it perfectly clear that the DOJ guidelines will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program. We will not change our regulated drug testing program based upon these guidelines to Federal prosecutors.
The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40, at 40.151(e) – does not authorize “medical marijuana” under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result.
That section states:
§ 40.151 What are MROs prohibited from doing as part of the verification process?
As an MRO, you are prohibited from doing the following as part of the verification process:
(e) You must not verify a test negative based on information that a physician recommended that the employee use a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. (e.g., under a state law that purports to authorize such recommendations, such as the “medical marijuana” laws that some states have adopted.)
Therefore, Medical Review Officers will not verify a drug test as negative based upon information that a physician recommended that the employee use “medical marijuana.” Please note that marijuana remains a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. 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.
Jim L. Swart
Office of the Secretary of Transportation
Office of Drug and Alcohol
Policy and Compliance
Department of Transportation
October 22, 2009
For further information, contact Region 10’s Ted Uyeno at (206) 220-7958 or email email@example.com.