Federal Agency Proposes Oral Fluid Testing for Transportation Industry

Washington, DC: The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed changes to existing federal drug testing guidelines that would allow for the use of oral fluid testing as an alternative to urinalysis for those working in the transportation industry.

The agency proposed the rule change in the February 28, 2022 edition of the Federal Register, opining, “This will give employers a choice that will help combat employee cheating on urine drug tests and provide a more economical, less intrusive means of achieving the safety goals of the program.”

Oral fluid tests typically detect either THC or its metabolite for a period of one to two days post-exposure – a timetable that is significantly shorter than that associated with urinalysis. The latter may detect the presence of carboxy-THC for weeks or even months following abstinence.

Federal law mandates commercial drivers to routinely undergo marijuana urinalysis testing. In recent months, federal statistics have identified the suspension of over 72,000 truck drivers as a result of failed drug tests. Over half of those failed tests were for the past use of marijuana.

In 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services proposed in the Federal Register expanding federal drug testing guidelines to include the use of hair follicle testing. To date, however, that proposed rule change has not been finalized.

NORML has long called for the use of performance testing technology, rather than drug detection technology, to determine whether someone may be impaired while on the job.

Full text of the proposed rules is available from the US Federal Register. Additional drug testing information is available from NORML’s fact sheet, ‘Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace.’