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Commercial Driving License (CDL) and Medical Marijuana Card: Can I Have Both?

Unfortunately, no.

Medical marijuana laws differ from state to state, but commercial drivers are subject to federal law. It means that you can’t apply for a medical cannabis card and a CDL at the same time.

Navigating the complex world of commercial driving can be challenging, especially when it comes to medical marijuana use.

In this post, we’ll help you understand the challenges and decisions CDL holders face when considering medical marijuana use. And how you can decide which you should prioritize first.

A Brief Overview of CDL and Medical Marijuana Cards

While CDLs grant drivers the ability to operate commercial vehicles, medical marijuana cards allow patients to legally access and use cannabis for medicinal purposes.

But the two domains are on different sides of the law: CDL is under federal law, while medical marijuana is subject to state laws, so it’s illegal under federal law.

What is a CDL?

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a specialized license that allows individuals to operate commercial vehicles such as trucks, buses, and hazardous material transporters.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains a strict policy regarding drug use among CDL holders. Under DOT regulations, the use of any Schedule I substance, including state-legalized medical cannabis, disqualifies a driver from operating or driving a commercial vehicle.

This policy is enforced through drug testing protocols, including pre-employment, post-accident, and random testing. A positive test for cannabis can lead to immediate suspension or revocation of a CDL, regardless of the driver’s state-compliant medical marijuana status.

What is a Medical Marijuana Card?

A medical marijuana card is a state-issued identification card that allows a patient with a doctor’s recommendation to obtain, possess, or cultivate cannabis for medicinal use.

It is issued by a state in which medical cannabis is recognized. The requirements for a medical marijuana card vary from state to state.

Driving a CMV as a Medical Marijuana Card Holder

Driving or operating a CMV requires clearing a pre-employment drug screening. Post-accident drug and alcohol tests are typical in companies, and CMV drivers often face random testing throughout the year. Employers have the legal right to immediately conduct tests on those they suspect of drug or alcohol use.

Declining to take a drug or alcohol test leads to an automatic failure, resulting in your CDL being suspended.

Reinstatement of the license is only approved if you’ve done a ‘return-to-duty’ program under the guidance of a substance abuse professional approved by the DOT.

Are There Any Exceptions At All?

Truck Driver in the CabinCurrently, there are no exceptions for CMV drivers who are considering applying for a medical cannabis card.

  • No Recognition of Medical Cannabis: The DOT does not recognize the legal use of medical cannabis under state law as a valid medical explanation for a positive drug test.This means that even if medical cannabis is legal in your state and you have a medical cannabis card, testing positive for cannabis in a DOT drug test can lead to serious consequences, including the loss of your CDL.
  • Safety Considerations: The primary concern of the DOT is safety on the roads. The use of substances that can impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a CMV is strictly regulated. Since cannabis is considered a substance that can impair cognitive and motor functions, its use by CMV drivers is incompatible with federal safety regulations.

When a Medical Marijuana Card is More Important than a CDL

There are instances where the benefits of a medical marijuana card outweigh the advantages of having a CDL.

More and more people are relying on medical marijuana as an alternative medicine to help them manage or ease their conditions. States have created medical cannabis programs focusing on helping patients with debilitating conditions access medical marijuana legally.

One of those states is Louisiana, which created a comprehensive medical cannabis program and new bills in 2018 and 2020. Today, patients in Louisiana experiencing a wide range of chronic and debilitating conditions can find comfort in medicinal cannabis.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been recognized for its potential to provide relief for a variety of conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, without the side effects of traditional medications.

For many, it provides a significant improvement in quality of life, especially for those suffering from chronic pain, severe anxiety, debilitating conditions, and various forms of cancer.

The use of medical cannabis can lead to a reduction in symptoms, improved sleep, and a decrease in the need for prescription medications, which often come with their own set of side effects.

Here are more ways medical cannabis can help patients with certain conditions:

Sleep Improvement for Insomnia Patients

Struggling with insomnia can really affect your health and happiness. Certain types of marijuana, especially those with more THC, can act as a sleep aid, helping you fall asleep and get better rest.

Pain Relief

The substances in marijuana, like THC and CBD, work with our body’s system that controls pain. This makes cannabis useful for easing long-lasting pain from health issues like arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), and fibromyalgia. It’s also helpful in lessening pain from chemotherapy or nerve injuries.

It helps with Anxiety and Stress-Related Disorders

Medical marijuana is known to help lower anxiety and stress. Certain strains of marijuana that have less THC and more CBD are particularly good at easing anxiety symptoms in conditions like general anxiety, social anxiety, and PTSD.

Full plant means using the entire cannabis plant with all its natural compounds instead of just taking parts like CBD or THC alone. This approach is thought to make the plant’s components work better together, leading many people to support this more natural use of cannabis.

Research indicates that the entire cannabis plant might be more effective than just isolated parts in products like vapes, edibles, or oils. Many products, like vapes or oils, typically use just a single component of the cannabis plant (CBD for example), which is known for its health benefits.

The full plant contains a variety of helpful components that work better together. When you use the entire plant, you get all its benefits.

The idea behind using the full plant for its health benefits is called the entourage effect. This concept, first introduced by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and further explored by Dr. Ethan Russo, shows that the full range of natural substances in cannabis can work better together in our bodies.

Choosing the full plant means you’re tapping into all its goodness, which could be more effective in managing debilitating conditions such as epilepsy.

Medical Marijuana Card Holder

At TeleLeaf believe that your health comes first. Our advocacy prioritizes patients’ needs—patients who overcame the stigma of being medical cannabis users and patients who are on their way to post-traumatic growth.

If you’re looking for a holistic approach to your health, apply for a medical marijuana card at our HIPAA-compliant platform.

Learn more about our revolutionary approach to recovery from other debilitating issues by calling us at (504) 264-3123


References

DOT “CBD” Notice- Department of Transportation

https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/cbd-notice

True Screen – Employment Protections Bill for Medical Marijuana Users Introduced in Florida
https://www.truescreen.com/blogs/industry-news/2023/11/employment-protections-bill-for-medical-marijuana-users-introduced-in-florida/

How Does Cannabis Affect My Mental Health? – Tonwsend Recovery Center

https://www.townsendla.com/blog/cannabis-mental-health

iProspect Check – Reasonable Suspicion Drug Test: What Employers Need to Know

https://iprospectcheck.com/reasonable-suspicion-drug-test/

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