Can You Have a CDL and a Medical Marijuana Card?
Can You Have a CDL and a Medical Marijuana Card?
The short answer here is “yes.” It is possible to have both a CDL and a medical marijuana card. The problem is it’s not really practical.
Commercial trucking companies (or for that matter any company requiring you to have a CDL) are bound by rules and regulations under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT is a federal agency, and since cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, companies typically can’t hire people that use cannabis – even if they are 100% legal medical users under their state’s laws.
Furthermore, most companies that hire CDL drivers have mandatory drug testing policies. If you have a medical marijuana card and want to get a job that requires a CDL, you’ll probably have to give up using cannabis unless the drug testing dates are pre-arranged. In this case, you might be able to abstain long enough to pass the test.
Continue reading to learn more about the possibilities of having a CDL and medical marijuana card at the same time.
Understanding State vs. Federal Laws
As you know, medical cannabis is legal in most U.S. states (35 at the time of this writing). If you hold a CDL and work as a commercial driver, there is nothing stopping you from applying for (and getting) a medical marijuana card.
However, as we mention above, you would probably be putting your job in jeopardy. Or if you’re trying to get a commercial driving job, you probably won’t be able to. Most applications ask whether or not you use illicit drugs (i.e. cannabis). And like we said, even if you’re a legal medical marijuana user under your state’s laws, in the eyes of the DOT you’re still breaking the law and now allowed to work as a CDL driver.
Both state and federal governments are involved in the legislation that controls CDLs. However, since the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was put into effect in 1986, the latter has determined the requirements.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the United States is in charge of drug testing regulations as a result. Therefore, if you have a CDL, it is a bad idea to consume medicinal marijuana.
Assessing the Pros & Cons of Medical Marijuana for CDL Drivers
There are always pros and cons when it comes to life, and the same can be said for medical marijuana and commercial drivers. Whilst it may seem strange to couple cannabis with the operation of a heavy and large vehicle, there are some reasons as to why CDL drivers might potentially benefit from medical cannabis (on their days off, of course).
It’s easy to write off truck driving as a simple profession. Some individuals see it as one of the finest occupations in the US that doesn’t require a college degree. Please don’t think it’s as effortless as getting in the car, though. Long-haul truckers frequently travel thousands of miles with heavy freight loads over the course of several days. The profession requires an incredible amount of skill and technical knowledge, and it isn’t an easy life on the road. Imagine staying in mid-grade hotels (or your big rig’s sleeper cab) every night for weeks on end, stopping only to rest or eat cheap gas station food.
It’s vital to regularly include physical activity into your daily routine. Truck drivers are often unable to stop their vehicles and go to the gym en route to a destination because of the deadlines they must meet. This is why the occupation is often linked to obesity as well as other health impacts such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, sleep apnea, stress, fatigue, lung problems, and more.
You can see why CDL drivers might potentially benefit from a medical marijuana card and having access to medical cannabis during their days off.
On the other end of the spectrum, people against medical marijuana access for commercial drivers talk about how it might have an impact on the driver’s performance during work days. There’s a lot to discuss, think about, and consider when it comes to the pros and cons.
Be Warned: The Risk Is High
There’s no surprise that the risk is very high if you decide to consume medical cannabis and have a CDL. At MMJ Card Online, we never advocate for taking this risk because not only can it get you into big trouble, it could completely devastate the present and future of your career and livelihood.
CBD and CDLs: A Legal Gray Area
Although this article focuses on medical marijuana and CDLs, another point also needs to be mentioned. Many individuals consume CBD, and in a full-spectrum form, it happens to contain trace amounts of THC, typically 0.3% or lower.
As strange as this may sound, even that trace amount of THC may potentially show up on a drug screening due to the nature of how sensitive the tests are. This is why, whilst CBD is somewhat of a legal gray area when it comes to CDLs, it could cost you your license.
CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD generally do not contain even trace amounts of THC, but it is always important to check the third-party lab reports of a product to ensure this is the case. Opting for CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD may be the ideal course of action if you have a CDL but always follow the laws and regulations in your area before making a decision.
Can CBD cause a positive drug test for CDL holders?
The short answer here is yes – it’s possible. If you’re using full-spectrum CBD, the product may contain trace amounts of THC (generally below 0.3%). Unfortunately, even this trace amount of THC can show up on a drug test. The alternative to be safe rather than sorry is to purchase CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD, which does not contain trace amounts of THC.
Can I get (or keep) my CDL (and my job) if I fail a drug test?
When you have a failed drug or alcohol test on your record, things get difficult. For up to a year, and occasionally longer, it could be challenging for you to find work as a truck driver. Additionally, even if you successfully complete the return-to-duty procedure, your employer is not required to rehire you. Your earnings will, at most, be reduced by tens of thousands of dollars. Your driving career may even be ended.
Would federal legalization solve the problem for medical marijuana and CDL drivers?
In a nutshell, yes. Federal legalization would mean, in the eyes of the DOT, you’re no longer breaking the law when you consume cannabis. Therefore, as long as you’re obviously not using (or under the influence of) cannabis while you’re driving, you would legally be able to have a medical marijuana license and work as a truck driver or commercial driver.
Although some believe medical marijuana could benefit people with a CDL, the risk remains extremely high due to frequent drug screening that, if failed, could cost your entire career potentially. That’s why it is extremely important to use immense caution no matter your decision, and if you want to be on the safe side, always follow the laws and regulations down to a T since it is currently not permitted for someone with a CDL to also have a medical marijuana card.