Department of Transportation Clarifies Stance on Marijuana Use

By Judy Greenwald

Dec. 3, 2012

Despite recent state initiatives that decriminalize marijuana, the federal Department of Transportation does not authorize the use of Schedule 1 drugs, including marijuana, “for any reason,” said a DOT official in a statement issued Dec. 3.

Colorado and Washington voters approved measures decriminalizing marijuana in November. Jim L. Swart, director of the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance, said in a statement the department has received “several inquiries about whether these state initiatives will have an impact upon the Department of Transportation’s longstanding regulation about the use of marijuana by safety-sensitive transportation employees,” which include 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.

“We want to make it perfectly clear that the state initiatives will have no bearing” on the DOT’s regulated drug testing program, said the statement. The department’s medical review officers will not verify a drug test as negative upon learning the employee used recreational marijuana, it said. Nor will it verify a drug test negative if a physician recommends the employee use medical marijuana, it said.

Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. Comment below or email

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Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

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