While state laws across the US have legalized medical use of marijuana in 29 states and DC and with a number of states legalizing weed for recreational use, too, the question of drug testing for it and difficulties in determining if one is using drugs for medical purposes or not has been quickly intensifying. So it is time to bring some clarity into the situation. How does a common person know whether their marijuana use is going to be a problem for them or not?
As the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has clarified, people who use marijuana for medical purposes and have a respective prescription from a medical professional will still be considered violating the law when it comes to drug testing. The reason for this is the fact that statewide marijuana is still a Schedule I substance according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and drugs that fall in this category are believed to have no proven medical benefits. Thus, in the light of growing spread of prescriptions for marijuana, the state has adapted the legal language to the situation and made clear that exception is for ‘legally valid prescription consistent with the Controlled Substances Act’ only. As the national law has primary power, local ones will have to comply. Thus, any prescription for marijuana given by a physician remains responsibility of both the doctor who’s prescribed it and the patient who’s taking it. The new rules come into power from January 1st, 2018.
So, in such a way of things a positive drug testing for marijuana will be dealt with as the violation of the law, unlike other prescription medications. Also, people employed within the spheres which implies responsibility for others’ safety (e.g., drivers) are likely to be even more thoroughly checked. In fact, in some places even regular drivers will henceforth have to be more careful about the state they are driving in.
For instance, on November 8th, 2017 a one-year pilot program on drug testing begun in five counties of Michigan state (Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw). The purpose of the program is to be a preventive measure for drugged-driving (marijuana is legal in Michigan for medical use only). The program includes trained Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) who will accompany regular road patrols as they have received extensive professional training that allows them to detect drivers who’s behavior on the road is drug-impaired. Thus, drivers won’t be just stopped without any reason, dragged out of the car and forced to take a saliva drug testing. The police will only have the right to stop them if their manner of driving is endangering other people. Also, the result of the test will not be the evidence against drivers in the court, and a person has the right to refuse the testing, which, however, will then be noted in the police report. But if the drug test has been taken and has shown positive result for marijuana, blood test will be performed that will serve as the proof of one’s drug impairment while at the wheel.
The reason specifically for this program is the fact that the number of car crashes caused by drugged driving has increased by 32 percent in 2016 in comparison with the previous year, with 236 fatalities vs. 179 in 2015. The hope is, such a measure will help to reduce this number and result into more responsible approach to driving among those who take drugs, regardless of the probable medical purpose behind it.