Truckers question DOT’s hardline on medicinal cannabis

Mar 4, 2020

In a recent article published in the U.S. magazine Overdrive, senior editor Todd Dills discussed a statement he received from a drug-testing service provider, according to which police officers would not challenge THC-positive drug test results when truck drivers report using cannabidiol-containing (CBD) products, regardless of what the product’s legal status is in the state it was purchased. 

Moreover, Dill discussed potential problems that CBD products can cause for transport drivers, potentially causing them to experience job loss and associated loss of medical benefits. According to Dill, a veteran hauler with decades of experience he had interviewed was suffering from chronic and debilitating pain due to arthritis, which caused him to stop working for a prolonged period of time. The driver, who chose to remain anonymous, returned to work when he began to manage his pain with prescribed high-octane painkillers, only to develop an addiction to them. “[Doctors] did everything they could do to get me on that stuff, but nothing to help me get off of it,” said the driver, explaining that he needed to find his own treatment for his addiction and severe withdrawal symptoms. However, he also found an effective method of pain management – an oral CBD product with small amounts of THC, which has been effective for him for more than a year.  “The pain I have now is moderate, but it’s manageable. The CBD is working,” he said.

Since the CBD product he takes contains small amounts of THC, the interviewed driver said he is aware of the potential risks to his job if he gets caught, even though it does not produce palpable psychoactive effects, since the federal laws prohibit THC consumption for truck drivers. “If I get caught, I’d think about taking it to court as a test case — it’s not right that a driver can drive down the road taking narcotics but not with a little THC in his blood to get him off the stuff,” he said.

According to the driver, CBD products for pain control should be “managed legally with attending physicians, not effectively criminalized carte-blanche through CDL drug-testing regimes…I’m using something that helped me get the monkey off my back,” he says. The current system essentially asks him to “put the monkey back on my back. No thank you. I’ll just have to play hide and seek with the drug screens.”

For the most part, opinions expressed in the comment section of the article agree with the notion that CBD and THC-containing products can be beneficial for pain control and their use should not jeopardize consumers’ careers.  “I too am a survivor of the opioid insanity that’s being pushed by the medical community… Cannabis is a reasonable alternative to manage pain even though it is illegal. The problem is that there is too much money involved in the effort to “control “ it by means of federal grant money to local and state authorities,” said one commenter.