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Can CDL Drivers Use Medical Marijuana?

Can CDL Drivers Use Medical Marijuana?
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As more and more states legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, questions have arisen about the rights of professional drivers, specifically those holding Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs). The issue of medical marijuana is particularly pertinent for CDL drivers because they operate under strict federal regulations due to the safety-sensitive nature of their work.

In this article, we’ll explore the complex interplay between state and federal medical cannabis laws, shedding light on what’s permissible, what’s not, and what CDL drivers need to know.

Can You Have a Commercial Driving License (CDL) and a Medical Marijuana Card?

Since marijuana is illegal under federal law and all CDL drivers are subjected to drug tests by the Department of Transportation (DOT), CDL drivers cannot possess medical marijuana cards. You may avoid disciplinary action if you possess a card but refrain from cannabis use, but failing a drug test could cost you your job.

Can CDL Drivers Use Medical Cannabis?

Under current federal law, CDL holders are prohibited from using medical cannabis, even if it’s prescribed by a doctor. According to the DOT, which oversees the safety regulations for all commercial driving in the United States, the use of marijuana by safety-sensitive employees, including those with CDLs, is not permitted.

Some states allow the use of medical marijuana, but these states’ laws do not supersede federal regulations regarding drug use for commercial drivers. The DOT conducts random drug testing on CDL drivers to enforce compliance, and a positive test for cannabis mandates termination.

Recreational Marijuana

Can CDL Drivers Use Recreational Marijuana if Their State Allows It?

Though some states have legalized recreational marijuana, CDL holders are subject to federal regulations, which strictly prohibit its use. The Department of Transportation (DOT) does not recognize state-legalized marijuana consumption for any purpose for drivers operating commercial vehicles.

Any CDL driver who tests positive for marijuana, regardless of its legality in their state, risks losing their CDL certification.

What Happens if a Truck Driver Tests Positive for Marijuana?

If a CDL truck driver tests positive for marijuana, federal law mandates that they be barred from performing any safety-sensitive functions, including operating a commercial vehicle. This is non-negotiable and occurs as soon as the positive test is reported.

Following this, the driver must undergo a return-to-duty process that involves being evaluated by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and complying with any treatment or education programs that are prescribed. The driver cannot return to any DOT-sensitive job without completing this process.

Additionally, the positive test result is recorded in the Clearinghouse, which can impact the driver’s future employment opportunities. It’s important to note that these regulations apply regardless of the cannabis laws in the state where the driver operates or resides.

Can a CDL Driver Use CBD?

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp-derived products (including CBD) at the federal level, provided they contain less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). In addition, though the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) forbids cannabis use among CDL drivers, it doesn’t explicitly disallow CBD use.

However, if you use CBD products as a CDL driver, you’ll risk testing positive for THC and losing your certification. Therefore, while using CBD might not be strictly illegal for CDL drivers, caution is advised.


While states continue to legalize medical marijuana for the general public, CDL drivers remain governed by federal law. No driver can legally obtain a medical marijuana card or use medical cannabis products, and if they fail a drug test, they could lose their certification. CBD use falls into a legal gray area, but consumption of CBD products could still lead to a failed drug test.

If you’re looking to obtain a medical marijuana card, the Sanctuary Wellness Institute has you covered. We can connect you with a medical marijuana doctor and guide you through the process of applying for an MMJ card in your home state.

Book an appointment with the Sanctuary today to find out whether you’re eligible for medical cannabis treatment.

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