Unfortunately, the answer is “no,” you legally can’t have a medical marijuana card if you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This is the case even if you live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal.
Even though a medical marijuana card could greatly help commercial drivers, they are prohibited from getting one. Below, we outline why this is the case and discuss how long the drug remains in your system. Ultimately, after reading this article, it is up to each CDL holder to decide whether it is worth the risk of losing their license for an MMJ card.
There are more medical marijuana legal states than places where the plant is completely illegal. You can apply for MMJ if you live in a legal state and meet the criteria. If you have a qualifying medical condition, there is no reason for a physician to deny you access. You are entitled to your MMJ card, even if you have a CDL. However, you can wave goodbye to your career if you ever test positive for marijuana.
The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) left little to interpretation when discussing the use of medical marijuana. The DOT explicitly states that its Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation does not allow the use of medical marijuana under state law (49 CFR Part 40).
The DOT says holding an MMJ card is not a valid medical explanation if a transportation employee tests positive for any prohibited drug.
Remember, even though marijuana is legal for medical or recreational purposes in most states plus D.C., it is still federally illegal. The DOT, of course, is a federal employer. This means the use of a Schedule I drug is prohibited. “Safety sensitive” employees are not allowed to have it in their systems at any time.
The laws governing CDLs involve state and federal governments. The latter has set the rules since 1986 with the implementation of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act. As a result, the United States Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is in charge of drug testing policies. Therefore, it is a terrible idea to use medical marijuana if you have a CDL.
Is an MMJ Card More Important to You Than Your CDL?
Do you have a medical issue that significantly decreases your quality of life? Has it become such a
problem that you’re willing to give up your CDL in pursuit of improved everyday well-being? If you live in a state with a medical marijuana program and have a qualifying medical condition, companies such as Veriheal and Leafwell can connect you with licensed doctors. They help you get a written certification and join the millions of people who look forward to each day because of medical marijuana.
What Could Happen If I Use Weed and Drive My CMV?
If you have a CDL and wish to drive a CMV, you must pass a pre-employment drug test. It is common for companies to administer drug and alcohol tests after crashes. Also, employers can randomly test CDL drivers throughout the year. It is legal for your employer to immediately test anyone they believe is potentially under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
We can get into the drunk driving vs. high driving debate as much as we want, but a refusal to take a drug or alcohol test is an automatic failure that results in the suspension of your CDL. You don’t get it back until you complete the “return-to-duty” process with a DOT-qualified substance abuse professional.
Things get tough with a failed drug or alcohol test on your record. You may find it hard to get another job for up to a year, sometimes longer. Also, your employer is not obligated to hire you back even if you complete the return-to-duty process. At best, you will lose tens of thousands of dollars in earnings. At worst, your driving career is over.
Why Would a Truck Driver Need a Medical Marijuana Card?
It is easy to dismiss the job of a truck driver as an easy one. Some in the industry believe it is one of the best jobs you can get in the U.S. without a college degree. However, please don’t assume it is as simple as getting behind the wheel. It is common for long-haul drivers to spend several days driving cargo thousands of miles. Imagine spending nights in motels and stopping only to eat substandard gas station food.
Incorporating movement into your life at regular intervals is essential. Given the deadlines truck drivers face, they can’t stop the truck and hit the gym on the way! The job also has an association with obesity. This is hardly a surprise since drivers often combine little or no exercise with high-calorie food. Associated medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes could also come into play.
Additional medical issues include:
- Sleep apnea
- Lung problems
All of a sudden, it becomes easy to see why the holder of a CDL would need an MMJ card.
If You Want to Take the Risk, Be VERY Careful
At WayofLeaf, we do not advocate CDL holders risking their licenses and livelihoods by using medical marijuana. However, there is nothing to prevent you from attaining an MMJ card by going through the standard process in your state. You can continue to work as a commercial driver but remember, you’re only one random drug test away from disaster.
It is a bitter pill to swallow for the nation’s truck drivers. This is especially the case in a state such as Maine. There, employers are not allowed to fire existing employees or refuse a job applicant for testing positive for marijuana on a drug screening. However, once again, federal law trumps state law. Practically all modes of transportation, trucks, airlines, or pipelines, face the same DOT drug testing requirements.
Marijuana Can Stay in Your System for a Long Time
If you plan to get an MMJ card as a CDL holder, you need to know the answer to the question: “How long does weed stay in your system?” Most employers use a urinalysis when conducting drug screenings. As the name suggests, you urinate into a cup, and a lab tests the sample for various drugs. As far as marijuana goes, testers are looking for THC-COOH metabolites.
The metabolites can stay in your system for several days, even if you are a one-time user. They can stay in the system of moderate users (four times a week) for up to a week. It can take up to 11 weeks for evidence of cannabis use to leave your body if you’re a chronic daily user. This timeline is only feasible if you suddenly stop taking the drug.
Picture the scene: You have completed a sequence of grueling journeys and have a few days off to relax. You light up a couple of joints and enjoy your well-earned time off. Four days later, you are behind the wheel again, but not before facing a random urinalysis. You will likely test positive and lose your CDL. Is it fair? Probably not, but that’s how it is as long as marijuana remains a federally illegal substance.
Some CDL drivers will doubtless ignore warnings about using MMJ and try to find ways to beat drug screenings. This may include using products such as Toxin Rid by Testclear, a reputable company with decades of experience creating drug test and detox products. Although countless people say Testclear helped them pass a drug test, there are no guarantees, and you use these products at your own risk.
Final Thoughts on Getting an MMJ Card with a CDL
In one sense, the need for CDL holders to have clean systems is perfectly understandable. They control large, powerful vehicles capable of causing colossal destruction if poorly handled. No one should ever be under the influence of marijuana (or alcohol) when they get behind the wheel. If you are stoned while driving, you deserve the punishment you receive if caught.
However, CDL holders with legitimate medical concerns cannot feel the relief potentially provided by marijuana. THC-COOH metabolites remain in the system for days or weeks after use. Therefore, a commercial motor vehicle driver is unable to take so much as a puff of a joint. If they do, there is the fear of a random drug test catching them a few days later.
The nation’s drivers have a tough job and are susceptible to medical problems. MMJ could potentially alleviate some of the symptoms of these issues. You can get a medical cannabis card if you have a CDL but are taking an enormous risk. Some drivers believe they can avoid detection if they use one of the popular organic ways to detox found online.
The truth is, none of those tactics are guaranteed to work, no matter what forum “experts” claim. Ultimately, if you use medical marijuana as a commercial driver, even during your downtime, your CDL is continuously at risk.