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Cannabis Watch: More second-chance drug tests for DOT-regulated drivers signal shift away from zero-tolerance policies


More transit drivers and other workers regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation that violated federally mandated drug tests are being allowed back on the job, according to data from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

The number of return-to-duty drug tests by employees that flunked earlier tests climbed to 892 in 2021 from 810 in 2020, according to the FTA’s July monthly newsletter.

In another key data point, the FTA said the number of U.S. employers that conduct return-to-duty drug tests climbed to 236 in 2021 from 211 in 2020.

“This data indicates a trend toward a ‘second-chance’ policy versus a ‘zero-tolerance’/termination policy following a Department of Transportation drug violation,” the newsletter article said.

Under federal drug and alcohol testing regulations, drivers are tested for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and PCP. A positive drug test or an alcohol concentration of .04% or more, or a refusal, requires the driver to be removed immediately from working behind the wheel, according to a federal brochure for drivers.

The federal government also allows employers to allow drivers back on the job after they pass a return-to-work drug test and fulfill other requirements.

Although some states have passed laws that prohibit employers from testing for marijuana, these local laws “have no bearing on DOT-regulated testing program,” the FTA said.

The FTA also emphasized that CBD — a popular dietary supplement — is not regulated by the federal government and may contain enough THC to trigger a positive drug test.

“Using a CBD product is not a justification for excusing a positive drug test, andprocedures for drug positives should follow as usual,” the FTA said.

The FTA newsletter article was initially reported by Marijuana Moment.

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