Concerns Raised Over Proposed Marijuana Rescheduling and Its Impact on Road Safety

Concerns Raised Over Proposed Marijuana Rescheduling and Its Impact on Road Safety

The Biden administration’s plan to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance under the Controlled Substances Act could compromise road safety by limiting carriers’ ability to test drivers, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has cautioned.

During a press briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre revealed the Justice Department’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to reschedule the drug. Jean-Pierre highlighted that this change would lower marijuana’s classification below that of fentanyl and methamphetamine, substances driving the U.S. overdose crisis. She noted, “This adjustment will eliminate significant, long-standing barriers to vital research and is a continuation of President Biden’s efforts to pardon numerous federal offenses for mere possession of marijuana.”

The Department of Justice (DOJ) aligns this proposed change with the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) opinion, which recognizes marijuana’s accepted medical uses and reevaluates its potential for abuse and dependency. HHS had recommended this modification to the Drug Enforcement Agency last year.

ATA responded to this development by pointing out that the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) drug and alcohol testing regulations are governed by HHS’s Mandatory Guidelines, which permit testing for Schedule I or II drugs but not Schedule III substances. Dan Horvath, ATA’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs and safety policy, expressed concern: “If this rulemaking proceeds without thorough regulatory review and oversight, it could significantly hinder the ability of motor carriers and other employers in safety-sensitive positions to maintain a safe working environment, jeopardizing the safety of all road users.”

In a letter to the DOJ, HHS, and DOT, Horvath mentioned that marijuana accounts for approximately 60% of all positive drug tests among regulated commercial drivers, according to the latest data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse.

Horvath also referred to recent tragic incidents involving truck drivers who had used marijuana, including a multi-vehicle crash in Indiana that resulted in seven fatalities and an incident in Texas where a cement truck driver collided with a school bus, causing the death of a child. He warned, “Rescheduling marijuana without a specific exemption for drug testing of safety-sensitive workers could lead to more such devastating accidents and increase the toll on our nation’s roadways.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) offered a more measured response to the proposed rule. OOIDA spokesman George O’Connor stated, “We have a diverse membership and are currently collecting their feedback. There are many unresolved questions, particularly regarding the fact that a positive test does not necessarily indicate current impairment.”

Leave a Comment

Verified by MonsterInsights