Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published final guidelines on the use of oral fluids (i.e., a person’s saliva) to test for drugs among the federal workforce. Some observers, including STC, view this as a positive first step toward DOT allowing regulated motor carrier employers to use the less invasive and more accurate oral fluids test in lieu of urinalysis.
While this is not in trucking’s immediate future — DOT must first finalize rules to adopt this new type of sample/test, which could take a few years — its likelihood got STC thinking. Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized recreational marijuana. Another 31 states have either legalized medical marijuana, decriminalized recreational marijuana, or reduced penalties associated with its use. As the nation’s opinion on marijuana continues to change and move toward acceptance, putting it in a category closer to alcohol than other Schedule I drugs, the trucking industry will likely need to engage in a serious conversation about what constitutes marijuana impairment and how it can be detected at the roadside. If/when that conversation comes, saliva testing may be trucking’s best solution to ensure drivers are not operating CMVs under the influence of marijuana. Trucking officials would be wise to keep an eye on oral fluids testing technology and standards as a harbinger of things to come.