The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a new report finding marijuana at the top of the list of drugs most frequently detected during driver drug and alcohol testing over the past year. Nearly 41,000 truck drivers tested positive for marijuana in 2022. This represents an increase of 32% over positive marijuana tests in 2021, according to year end data compiled from the FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. Cocaine, methamphetamines and amphetamines placed second, third and fourth, respectively, among substances accounting for the most frequent driver drug-test failures data revealed. These top four drugs account for 90% of all positive test results over the last three years. The jump in positive tests for marijuana is likely due to legalization in many states and localities along with misinformation among drivers whether its use is permitted under the FMCSA drug and alcohol testing regulations. Use of CBD oil is another factor driving the increase in positive marijuana drug tests among CDL drivers.
Increased marijuana use is also contributing to the loss of qualified CDL drivers. Marijuana can be detected up to 30 days in bodily fluids and up to 60 days in hair samples. Approximately 91,000 of the more than 166,000 drivers who failed at least one drug test have yet to enroll in the return-to-work process according to the FMCSA. Only about 46,000 drivers have completed the return-to-work process and eligible to drive again, raising concerns over whether these drivers will permanently drop out of shrinking pool of qualified drivers. Experts say a field sobriety test for marijuana is needed to detect real time driver impairment rather than detection of past use in order to stem the loss of qualified drivers who test positive and never return to work. That is why EMA is supporting a proposed rule that would allow oral fluid drug testing for CDL drivers and other HAZMAT employees. The oral fluid testing window of detection for marijuana use is up to 24 hours. The introduction of oral fluid testing will keep unsafe drivers off the road, provide employers with flexibility in test method selection, lower test costs and reduce the ability of employees to subvert testing.