OOIDA submits comments to FDA about possible reclassification of marijuana

November 1, 2018

Mark Schremmer


Marijuana’s medical benefits are enough to remove it from the Schedule I list of controlled substances, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote in formal comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

OOIDA’s filed comments on Oct. 31 in response to the FDA’s notice about possibly changing marijuana’s drug classification. The drugs under review include marijuana, as well as several synthetic cannabinoids, fentanyls and other substances.

Schedule I drugs are defined as “substances with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” In addition to marijuana, some current examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote. Meanwhile, cocaine and methamphetamine are listed as Schedule II drugs by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

“One of the primary considerations for a substance to be included in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is whether or not the substance has no currently accepted medical use in the United States. On this point alone, cannabis should be excluded from its present classification,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President Todd Spencer. “Some estimates show that more than a million Americans use cannabis for medical purposes, and there have been numerous studies and trials that show cannabis can be used safely and effectively, including for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.

“By reclassifying cannabis, millions of Americans – including truckers – would potentially benefit from using a safer alternative to treat chronic pain in lieu of other more harmful pharmaceutical products, such as opioids.”

While OOIDA recommends changing marijuana’s scheduling classification, the Association is strongly opposed to anyone who would drive under the influence of the substance.

“To be clear, OOIDA has never – and will never – condone the use of cannabis for any trucker while operating a commercial motor vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter,” the Association wrote. “However, cannabis used for medicinal purposes is much safer and healthier than current alternatives, including alcohol (and) opioids.”

“Because federal motor carrier laws and regulations prohibit – and test for – any use of cannabis among our nation’s truck drivers, it forces them to pursue alternatives, such as opioids, that are less safe, more detrimental to a driver’s health and highly addictive and dangerous.”

Based on current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, a person is not physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if he or she uses any Schedule I controlled substance. Currently, truck drivers can’t use marijuana for any reason even if the substance is legal in their home state.

Comments on the FDA notice were due Oct. 31. The agency received 10,591 comments online.