One “Dead Give Away of a Pothead”


A Different Kind of High . . .

According to the Pew Research Center, in the last decade, attitudes toward marijuana use have changed. Fewer people see smoking marijuana as morally wrong and the Millennial generation is the most supportive of marijuana legalization.

Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the agency which conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), show illicit drug use in the United States has been increasing and marijuana use has increased since 2007. SAMHSA’s data indicate that more than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana.

It is a major violation of federal regulations to drive a truck or bus under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol. Employers are required to conduct mandatory pre-employment screenings and random drug and alcohol testing of CDL drivers.

Title 49 CFR Part 40 regulates drug and alcohol testing for all Commercial Driver License (CDL) holders in safety-sensitive positions.  A safety sensitive position is a job or position where the person holding this position has the responsibility for his/her own safety or other people’s safety. If the job functions and duties are such that a failure to properly perform the functions or job duties would put the employee or others in risk of physical injury, it is considered a safety sensitive position. Every year organizations and companies must randomly test at least 50 percent of their CDL drivers for drugs, and 10 percent of their CDL drivers for alcohol. Owner-operators and motor carriers who have only one CDL driver must join a drug testing consortium. (See: Am I Covered?)

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act mandates a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for all national commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders. The clearinghouse will collect driver information on failed drug and alcohol tests.

CDL driver supervisors are required to have Drug and Alcohol Reasonable Suspicion training, if the organization or company operates vehicles that require a CDL on the public roads, under 49 CFR 382.603 Training for supervisors.

A Dead Give Away

Here’s a sign of marijuana use in a truck— used by safety staff in top transportation companies and by law enforcement nationwide— called a “dead give away” of a marijuana user.

Top Tip: Check for little burn holes in the truck seat.  These are not from the “cherry” falling off the end of a cigarette, but from pot seeds that burn through the paper or pop out of a pipe.

Another secondary sign of smoking marijuana in a company vehicle (sometimes more easy to obliterate or disguise) can be “black stains” from ash, burnt pot, or resin on the seat.

An Ounce of Prevention . . .

Have a drug and alcohol policy with crystal clear explanations of what behavior will not be tolerated and what consequences will follow from drug or alcohol use at work.

Consider enrolling staff not covered by 49 CFR Part 40 in a Drug Free Workforce Program.

Never put a CDL driver to work without having the results of their pre-employment drug screen.

Owner-operators and motor carriers who have only one CDL driver are DOT regulated and are required to do DOT drug and alcohol testing per 49 CFR Part 40.

Thank you for reading this.

J Taratuta

John Taratuta is an independent Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599