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Truckers and legalized marijuana

New York residents may be aware that recreational marijuana use is now legal in Maine and Massachusetts. On Nov. 8, voters in Nevada and California also voted to lift the legal restrictions on recreational marijuana use. In North Dakota, Arkansas and Florida, medicinal use of marijuana became legal after voting day.

With all of the new states legalizing marijuana use, almost 25 percent of Americans now live in areas where it is legal to smoke pot for fun. Even more people live in states where it is possible to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, the changing laws have had no effect on commercial truck drivers who will still be subject to the same federal drug testing policies.

On Nov. 9, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a statement confirming that there would be no changes to the drug testing laws that apply to truckers. As long as marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act, commercial truck drivers will not have the legal right to use it while working. After recreational marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado in 2012, the DOT stated that it was still unacceptable for employees in safety-sensitive jobs to use marijuana.

A commercial truck driver who causes an accident while under the influence of marijuana may receive criminal charges. Even if not, occupants of other vehicles who have been injured in such a semi truck accident still could pursue compensation for their losses through a civil personal injury lawsuit filed against the impaired truck driver with the assistance of legal counsel.

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Orin J. Cohen Law
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