Opioids, Marijuana Complicate Drug Testing Policies

- Opioids, Marijuana Complicate Drug Testing Policies

Between the opioid epidemic and the conflict between federal law and state laws regarding marijuana use, now is a good time for fleets to review their drug use and testing policies.

Despite being legal in several states, federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This means truck drivers are not allowed to use it. If only it were that simple. Medical marijuana can complicate the issue in some cases.

The use of opioids is even more complex. Opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine (names you may more easily recognize are OxyContin, Vicodin, Norco, Percocet), are not illegal substances when prescribed by a physician. They do however render a driver unfit for duty.

One way drug use has been kept in check by many fleets is the use of random drug tests. Until two years ago, DOT declared you had to maintain 50% of your population tested on a random basis. That 50% has been reduced to 25%, meaning there are fewer opportunities to identify drivers who are driving under the influence of opioids or other drugs.

If a driver tests positive during a random drug test or during post-accident testing, there is a protocol that must be followed.  The driver must be evaluated by a substance abuse professional (SAP) who can recommend treatment. Once the driver has completed the treatment, he is subject to six follow-up tests in a 12-month period. The follow-up testing can last up to five years but may or may not be at the same frequency.

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