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Marijuana, cocaine top drug clearinghouse violations

Marijuana accounted for almost half of positive drug tests. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Marijuana is by far the drug of choice among drivers testing positive for controlled substances, according to data compiled by the federal Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

In the first detailed summary report of the clearinghouse, released on June 10 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), data shows that the 10,388 driver drug tests that tested positive for marijuana accounted for almost half of the 21,156 total positive tests submitted to the clearinghouse as of June 1. The clearinghouse became operational for drug test submissions on January 6.

Cocaine was the second highest drug with positive test results in the database, with 3,192 tests results (15% of the total). Methamphetamine was third, with 2,184 positive tests (10% of the total). Positive drug tests account for 80% of the total violations reported (rather than alcohol), according to FMCSA.

“It’s probably not a surprise that marijuana shows up as the number one drug, but this confirms previous reports showing just how widespread it is” among substance users, David Osiecki, President and CEO of Scopelitis Transportation Consultants, told FreightWaves.

Substances identified in positive drug tests reported in clearinghouse as of 6/1/2020. Source: FMCSA

Osiecki noted that the relatively high number of marijuana positive results could also be attributed to an increasing number of states where marijuana use is legal, which is superseded by federal law when it comes to those holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

“There could be a lack of understanding in that if you’re a CDL holder, marijuana is a schedule one drug, which means it’s illegal for commercial drivers holding a federal license.”

FMCSA’s latest data also reveals that a significant number of employers have already conducted their voluntary, “limited” queries for their employees, something that is required only once a year. Such queries account for almost 40% of over 900,000 total queries into the database so far.

“The fact that so many limited queries are already in is a good sign; it means companies are checking the database more than the minimum of once a year, which is an important safety compliance measure,” Osiecki said.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.