Positive cannabis tests jump 32%

January 6, 2023 - The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released its latest report on drug testing results for the trucking industry. Of those tested in 2021, there were 55,223 positive drug tests. For 2022, there were 68,639 positive tests representing a 24% annual increase.

The Clearinghouse for the drug testing program reports a listing of all prohibited substances found in positive test results. Of the 14 prohibited substances found since 2021, cannabis (marijuana) returned with the highest positive test rate. In 2021, there were 31,085 positive marijuana tests and 40,916 in 2022 representing a 32% year-over-year increase. Marijuana represented 60% of all positive tests.

The devastating impact of alcohol-impaired driving has been know for a long time but, the effects of marijuana on drivers are not well studied. Legalization of marijuana across the country for personal use may be misleading truckers to believe that they can use the substance off duty and not have consequences - nothing could be further from the truth. Driving under the influence of a drug is dangerous and reckless but, drugs can take days to completely exit a person’s system leaving harmful side effects.

Cannabis is a federally classified Schedule I controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. As such, under current regulations “a person is not physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if he or she uses any Schedule I controlled substance”.

It’s imperative to know that truck drivers who receive a positive test result for any drug — including marijuana, are prohibited from driving and must also enter a “return-to-work” process and retest with a negative result to get back behind the wheel.

Beyond losing your driving privileges, the liability ramifications should you be involved in a crash while under the influence could end your career and even your life or the life of another.

A December 13 report by the National Transportation Safety Board shows that impairment from drugs, especially marijuana, is a growing concern that needs to be addressed quickly. Because of misleading information about the drug, the agency strongly encourages prominently establishing a clear, consistent, and easily recognizable warning label for all prescription and over-the-counter medications (including cannabis) that may interfere with an individual’s ability to operate a vehicle.

It is alarming to see the increase in positive test rates for such a critical part of our national’s supply chain. Please head the warnings from the NTSB and your insurance professionals. We can do better.