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ATA is sounding the alarm for trucking over feds reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug

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The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is sounding the alarm ahead of a federal proposal to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug.

On Thursday, federal authorities unveiled a proposal to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug.

While this move would not legalize the drug on a federal level, it would change the classification of marijuana from a substance with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” to one with only “a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.”

Following Thursday’s proposal, the ATA sent a letter raising concerns about the highway safety risks of marijuana reclassification to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.  

Current federal drug testing guidelines for safety-sensitive workers are determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These guidelines only allow regulated employers to test for Schedule I or II drugs, the ATA points out.

If marijuana is rescheduled as a Schedule III drug, it would “have the likely consequence of precluding testing for all professional drivers and transportation workers as part of the DOT testing program.”

“ATA is alarmed by the possibility that this reclassification could prohibit certain industries from screening for marijuana use by workers performing safety-sensitive roles. The absence of a reliable standard for marijuana impairment makes it all the more critical for motor carriers to have visibility into marijuana usage. If the trucking and broader transportation industries’ ability to conduct drug testing for marijuana use is restricted, the risk of impaired drivers operating on our nation’s roadways undetected would increase, endangering all who share the road,” the group said.

“ATA believes that it is vitally important that your agencies ensure an ongoing allowance for marijuana testing of safety-sensitive workers to avoid deterioration of highway safety,” wrote ATA Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Safety Policy Dan Horvath. “If this rulemaking is permitted to move forward without appropriate regulatory review, oversight and deliberation, ATA is concerned that it will severely curtail the ability of motor carriers and other employers of safety-sensitive positions to maintain a safe working environment, threatening the safety of all road users.”

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