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FMCSA reports 8,000 positive drug tests since clearinghouse went live

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the drug and alcohol clearinghouse had detected and identified nearly 8,000 positive substance abuse tests of commercial drivers since Jan. 6.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the drug and alcohol clearinghouse had detected and identified nearly 8,000 positive substance abuse tests of commercial drivers since Jan. 6.

“We’ve seen encouraging results from the drug and alcohol clearinghouse, but there’s still work to do to ensure we identify more drivers who should not be behind the wheel.  The clearinghouse is a positive step, and the agency continues to work closely with industry, law enforcement, and our state partners to ensure its implementation is effective,” said Jim Mullen, FMCSA's acting administrator.

The clearinghouse, which now has more than 650,000 registrants, is an online database that allows FMCSA, employers of CDL drivers, state driver licensing agencies and law enforcement officials to identify drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements in real time.

The rule was mandated by Congress as part of the MAP-21 highway funding law and finalized in December 2016 by FMCSA, which estimates this will eliminate nearly 900 crashes a year.

Employers must be registered during the first full year of implementation to ensure they are able to conduct the required annual query on all employed drivers. Commercial drivers will need to register to respond to an employer’s request for consent prior to a pre-employment query or other full query being conducted.

In a separate development, the U.S. Department of Transportation is warning commercial drivers that hemp products could be mislabeled and actually could contain illegal levels of marijuana.

While DOT does require marijuana testing, it does not for CBD or “cannabidiol. However, because those products still could contain small amounts of THC, it potential could still result in a positive test for marijuana.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration does not certify the levels of THC in CBD products, so there is no guarantee the labeling is accurate.

"CBD use is not a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive result” DOT said in a Feb. 18 notice. "Therefore, medical review officers will verify a drug test confirmed at the appropriate cutoffs as positive, even if an employee claims they only used a CBD product.”

As a result, DOT recommended that "safety-sensitive employees should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products."

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