Marijuana rescheduling will not alter DOT drug testing, Buttigieg tells Congress

June 27, 2024

Mark Schremmer


A proposal to drop marijuana to a Schedule III drug will not prevent safety-sensitive positions – such as truck drivers – from being tested for the substance, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said at a House committee hearing on Thursday, June 27.

In May, the Department of Justice submitted a notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks to no longer classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug. The proposal prompted numerous concerns from the trucking industry that the change could affect drug testing programs for commercial drivers.

During a House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing, the DOT leader attempted to ease those concerns.

“Any impaired driving via alcohol, marijuana or any other source of impairment is, of course, a major safety concern,” Buttigieg said. “Our understanding is that the rescheduling of marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III would not alter DOT’s marijuana testing requirements with respect to the regulated community. For private individuals who are performing safety-sensitive functions in respect to drug testing, marijuana is identified by name and not by reference to one of those classes. So even if it moves in its classification, we do not believe it would have a direct impact on that authority.”

The public has through July 22 to comment on the proposal from the Department of Justice. As of Thursday, June 27, more than 25,000 comments have already been posted.

Regardless of whether the proposal is made into a final rule, however, Buttigieg reiterated later in the hearing that the Department of Transportation has no plans to change its drug testing policy in regard to marijuana.

“Our commitment to that testing continues regardless of the schedule, and we believe our authorities are intact,” Buttigieg said.

Truck parking

The hearing, which was focused on examining the Department of Transportation’s budget and policies, also spent time discussing the lack of truck parking.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., who introduced the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, said he was disappointed that the DOT budget didn’t include any funds dedicated to the creation of truck parking spaces.

Buttigieg said that although the budget doesn’t specifically include truck parking, the administration has been encouraging states to use some of the available funds for that purpose.

“First of all, let me applaud your attention to the issue of truck parking and let me make clear that we’re applying not just words but dollars and cents to this issue,” Buttigieg said. “We’ve been able to fund projects in Wyoming, Tennessee, Florida and other locations to support truck drivers. So I can assure you that even if it doesn’t have its own line item, it’s something we consider important.” LL