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Cannabis and CDL — What Truckers Need to Know

If you are considering getting a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you’ll need to know the facts about drug testing and driving impairment. For many hopeful truckers, cannabis use is a significant consideration in the pros and cons of a career as a CDL driver. In fact, Business Insider reported that the national shortage of CDL drivers might be partially due to cannabis-use restrictions.


A CDL is required to operate a truck with double or triple trailers, a truck with a tank, a truck transporting hazardous materials, or a passenger vehicle. Driving a commercial vehicle requires more knowledge, skills, and abilities than operating a non-commercial vehicle. Accordingly, CDL holders are held to a higher standard than other drivers regarding impairment and traffic violations.

This article will cover everything you need to know about CDL and cannabis.


Cannabis, CDL and Safety-Sensitive Positions


CDL drivers occupy what are considered safety-sensitive positions, meaning there are more stringent drug testing requirements than other jobs because they require a worker’s complete and unimpaired judgment for the safety of themselves or others. Other safety-sensitive positions include pilots, police, workers who operate heavy machinery, workers dealing with hazardous chemicals, and healthcare workers. A medical card is no exception — even CDL drivers with a valid medical cannabis card in their state are not allowed to drive if cannabis is detected in their system.


Although state-by-state laws vary for medical or adult recreational use, cannabis is still federally illegal. Holding a CDL means one works in a safety-sensitive position, meaning that cannabis drug testing is likely to continue even if federal legalization occurs in the future.

CDL Cannabis Drug Testing Requirements


Drug testing requirements for CDL drivers are more stringent than the average job. The Department of Transportation requires drug testing for all CDL drivers at multiple points in time, including pre-employment, post-accident, randomly, and when under suspicion of impairment. Substances tested include cannabis, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), and alcohol.


How long after cannabis consumption can THC show up on a drug test?


It depends on the amount of cannabis consumed, the time between consumption and the test, the type of drug test performed, and a person’s individual factors. Aspiring CDL drivers should know that — unlike alcohol which clears your system within hours or a couple of days — cannabis drug tests can show up positive days, weeks, or even months after cannabis consumption. Some CDL employers also require hair follicle tests that can detect cannabis consumption for up to 90 days. CDL drivers should know there is no accurate way to measure a person’s present cannabis impairment from a drug test.


Even though hemp and CBD products should contain less than 0.3% THC, there is still a chance CBD could cause a failed cannabis drug test from trace amounts of THC. Therefore, it is best for CDL drivers to refrain from CBD products or carefully check the source to ensure it does not affect their career.


What happens if a CDL Driver Tests Positive for Cannabis?


The career consequences are severe if a CDL driver comes up positive for cannabis. They could be disqualified for their CDL, fail to find a job, be subject to extensive return-to-work requirements, or have their license revoked. However, many CDL drivers are consuming cannabis anyway.: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, over half of CDL holders who failed drug screens came up positive for cannabis.

Don’t Drive Big or Small Vehicles While High

Some cannabis consumers think consumption doesn’t affect their driving, but the data is clear: cannabis impairs driving. Motor skills, judgment, and reflexes are adversely affected by THC. CDL drivers should know they are putting the public and themselves at risk if they drive after consuming cannabis.


A cannabis DUI is a serious offense, and if you are a CDL driver, the consequences are even more severe because you are held to a higher standard than other drivers. In addition to fines, criminal charges, and jail time, you could lose your CDL license and livelihood.

Protect Against Cannabis DUI With a reepher Membership


If you are a CDL driver or aspiring to become one, a cannabis DUI can have devastating consequences. It’s imperative to know the facts and be prepared. If you’re a cannabis consumer concerned about potential cannabis DUI charges, check out what a reepher membership offers.

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