According to the findings of the first report which analyzed data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse database, cannabis was the most common substance found in positive drug and alcohol tests among commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.
The Clearinghouse is a national online database aimed to improve road safety by providing the names of CMV drivers who fail drug and alcohol tests in real time. The data used for the report was collected over the period spanning Sept. 28 through May, which identified 19,849 CMV drivers who had at least one violation and were unable to operate until completing the return-to-duty process and included 15,682 drivers who had yet to begin the process.
Overall, the Clearinghouse has observed 21,156 positive tests for substance misuse in CMV drivers during the reporting period. The database has identified 10,388 positive tests for cannabis, 3,192 for cocaine and 2,184 for methamphetamine.
Earlier in June, Amber Schweer, supervisor of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s (OOIDA) drug and alcohol consortium, said the legalization of cannabis for medicinal and/or recreational use in numerous U.S. states could be be complicating the problem.
“There is a huge misconception that just because it is legal on the state level that it will be OK on the federal level,” Schweer said in her interview published by the association’s magazine. “That is not the case.”
Moreover, she has added that CBD products could be a contributing factor to these findings. In its February policy and compliance notice, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has cautioned commercial drivers that CBD products may contain higher levels of THC than they advertise, adding that CBD use is not a “legitimate medical explanation” for testing positive for cannabis use.
“There are so many companies that claim you won’t test positive using their product when in reality they cannot guarantee that. Drivers are not heeding the warnings that are put out there and, unfortunately, are facing expensive and detrimental consequences to their career.”Amber Schweet, supervisor of OOIDA’s drug and alcohol consortium
Currently, there is no federal regulation to ensure the labels on CBD products are accurate. Despite the label saying the CBD product contains less than the legal maximum of 0.03% THC, it is not possible for the consumer to know whether this is true.
Most larger carriers have a zero-tolerance policy with regard to drug and alcohol use, said Schweer. If a driver tests positive, they won’t be hired. She added that if a driver finds themselves testing positive for a drug test, the CMCI and OOIDA can offer guidance and advice on how to get back into compliance.