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US Transportation Secretary Says Marijuana Reclassification Won’t Change Trucker Drug Testing

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg recently announced that cannabis’ reclassification wouldn’t impact drug testing policies for truckers. While speaking at a congressional hearing this past week, he explained that this was primarily because the U.S. Transportation Department listed cannabis as a substance to screen for.

Buttigieg had been responding to a question tabled during a hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure asked by Representative Rick Crawford. Crawford had brought up concerns about the extensive public safety and health consequences of cannabis rescheduling on the country’s highway system and those who used it, such as members of the American Trucking Associations.

This discussion comes after the American Truckers Associations penned a letter to Buttigieg focused on raising alarms about the rescheduling of cannabis. In its letter, the association noted that such a major shift in policy would have considerable negative consequences for highway safety, endangering all who used the road.

Crawford explained how the reclassification and deregulation of cannabis would increase the number of individuals driving while impaired, then requested the official comment on what the department as a whole was doing to make sure safety-reliant positions and transportation workers would continue to be tested for cannabis use.

In addition, he asked that the department disclose how it planned to address safety in transportation in light of the decision made by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Buttgieg addressed these issues, explaining that the department didn’t expect any testing requirement on drugs to be changed based on the rescheduling decision. He added that the department viewed impaired driving, be it while under the influence of cannabis or alcohol, as a major safety concern.

At the moment, it isn’t clear if other federal employees will need to test for cannabis use if reclassification is approved. Going by current regulations, federal employees are subject to agency-specific and blanket workforce policies.

Additionally, the use of drugs classified under Schedule 1 and 2 of the Controlled Substances Act by federal employees is forbidden under a 1986 executive order issued by former President Ronald Reagan. The decades-old order, which created the Federal Drug-Free Workplace program, still governs many individual agencies.

Some attorneys believe that because this order defined illicit substances as those classified under the aforementioned schedules, cannabis being moved to Schedule 3 would lift restrictions that apply to all federal employees.

During the hearing, Buttigieg also responded to queries tabled by Representative Michael Bost, who asked about the impact of cannabis reclassification on drug testing for subway operators, school bus drivers, truckers and other federal transportation workers.

Cannabis companies such as SNDL Inc. (NASDAQ: SNDL) will continue to watch how the regulatory landscape evolves after the rescheduling is completed, so that they see how those changes could impact their medium- to long-term strategic direction in the markets in which they operate.

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