Can CDL Drivers Have a Medical Marijuana Card?
Can CDL Drivers Have a Medical Marijuana Card?
With many states legalizing or advocating for the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana, more people have questions about the various regulations that are in place for each state. In this article, we discuss the regulations put in place by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as they relate to the commercial driver’s license (CDL) laws in the state of Florida.
Medical Marijuana (MMJ) is used to treat a number of qualifying conditions. Those explicitly defined in Florida’s medical marijuana law are cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, seizures, Crohn’s disease, chronic muscle spasms, PTSD, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Find out if you pre-qualify for a recommendation in just two steps! First, take our eligibility survey. Once qualified for an in-person exam, you’ll receive scheduling instructions for a visit to one of our Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors. Completing the survey takes only 5 minutes. Find out if you pre-qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation today!
Why Would A CDL Driver Need an MMJ Card?
To drive any of the three classes of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), one must possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In some states a CDL is also needed to operate vehicles like a limousine, bus, or van for hire. The demand for drivers is high because many have gone on to find other careers. This is because it is difficult for them to maintain a healthy lifestyle while sitting for long periods of time and eating generally unhealthy restaurant foods. Those that continue their driving career spend weeks on the road and may develop problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Many truck drivers use medical marijuana to treat qualified conditions such as anxiety from PTSD, insomnia, or chronic pain.1
DOT Prohibits Marijuana Use
With the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) still controlling marijuana laws at the federal level, there can seem to be a blurred line between federal law and state regulations. Things can be especially confusing for truck drivers whose job it is to transport legal marijuana products across state lines, or who hold a marijuana card while also possessing a commercial driver’s license.
The legalization of medical marijuana in Florida has meant the trucking industry has seen greater opportunities for transporting marijuana products, but it has also created challenges around drug testing drivers in commercial driving schools and trucking companies. This is because federally, marijuana “is still considered to be a Schedule I narcotic, which means that it is illegal to consume, sell, or possess in the U.S.”1 Additionally, the DOT strictly prohibits marijuana use by employees considered “safety sensitive,” even if it is legal in the state where they live. For example, a truck driver from Florida who uses marijuana legally in Colorado (a recreational state) could lose their job.
“The DOT says holding an MMJ card is not a valid medical explanation if a transportation employee tests positive for any prohibited drug.”2 This has been the case since 1986 when the federal government implemented the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act. In conjunction, the United States Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets the policy for drug testing which must be followed by truck drivers and trucking companies alike.2 Regarding the process by which Medical Review Officers (MROs) evaluate the drug testing of CDL drivers, The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40 at 40.151(e) explicitly states:
- 40.151 What are MROs prohibited from doing as part of the verification process? As an MRO, you
are prohibited from doing the following as part of the verification process: (e) You must not verify a test negative based on information that a physician recommended that the employee use a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. (e.g., under a state law that purports to authorize such recommendations, such as the “medical marijuana” laws that some states have adopted.)3
CDLs and MMJ Don’t Mix
Trucking companies are required to administer drug testing to new employees before they are hired, at random during their employment, and immediately following any accidents. While anyone can apply for a medical marijuana recommendation, and CDL drivers can technically and legally obtain one, that card is ultimately useless for truck drivers in Florida (and all other states except Rhode Island) who don’t want to eventually find themselves terminated from their position.4
Is Medical Marijuana Right for Me?
Whether medical marijuana will help your condition depends on many factors best evaluated by a medical doctor. If you feel you may benefit from medical marijuana, the first step is to take our eligibility survey. In just 5 minutes, you could pre-qualify for a Florida medical marijuana recommendation. A Florida Marijuana Marijuana Doctor can then determine if you qualify during an in-person exam.
Dr. Rothman is a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He has received multiple special awards and recognitions, including Physician of the Year, from the Pinellas County Medical Association (2014 – 2015) and the President’s Service Award from the Pinellas County Medical Society.
He attended medical school at State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, where he also completed his Obstetrics and Gynecology residency. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Rothman’s professional career includes being an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida and Clinical Instructor at the University of Tampa’s College of Nursing.
Dr. Rothman received his Florida Medical Marijuana Physicians Certification in 2016 and was one of the first recommending physicians through DocMJ in the state and is loved by many of those early patients today.