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FMCSA say federal action necessary to change marijuana policy

Marijuana remains illegal in Texas, but voters in several other states approved ballot measures dealing with the recreational or medical use of the drug on Nov. 8. Voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada chose to approve the drug for recreational use, and the 25 states that already allow marijuana consumption for medical purposes were joined by North Dakota, Florida and Arkansas.

Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, and the Department of Transportation drug testing policies used by agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration were drawn up based on this classification. The FMCSA said that truck drivers would still be tested for cannabis use after Colorado and Washington legalized the drug in 2012, and the agency released a similar statement following the success of the 2016 marijuana-related ballot measures.

According to an FMCSA representative, any changes to federal cannabis testing guidelines would begin at the executive level and come from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. There have, however, been questions about the usefulness of marijuana testing. THC can be detected in the blood or urine of marijuana smokers long after the narcotic effects of the drug have dissipated, and long-term users of cannabis can develop tolerances so high that chemical tests are no longer a reliable measure of impairment.

Accidents involving large and heavy vehicles are often catastrophic, and personal injury attorneys with experience in semi truck accident lawsuits will likely support the testing of bus and truck drivers for intoxicating substances regardless of their legal status. While discovering THC in the system of a truck driver may not be enough to establish impairment at the time of a crash conclusively, attorneys could use this evidence along with maintenance records and FMCSA safety violation histories to establish negligent behavior.

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