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Flying High with the STATES Act

If the STATES Act passes, transportation as we know it is a thing of the past. Buzzed Busing, Radical Railways, or any other reference to public transportation could easily begin this article’s title.


The STATES Act, also known as the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act.” was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren in June 2018. The bill’s intent is on amending the Controlled Substances Act. Accordingly, it provides for a change regarding the Federal Government’s view on marijuana legalization.

The reason for the proposed change, of course, is due to the number of states that allow recreational or medical marijuana use.

Looking the other way

Marijuana is illegal at the federal level. States that pass laws to the contrary are standing up against national laws already in place.

At this point, the Federal Government doesn’t push back against state legalization. It chooses to turn a blind eye instead and do nothing. However, the STATES Act removes the barrier state legalization placed between state and federal governments.

Under the STATES Act, marijuana would be exempted from the Controlled Substances Act in states that choose to legalize it. This gives individual states free rein regarding regulation and reform.

With this in mind, we note that it does not totally legalize marijuana at the federal level. For states that choose to do nothing in regard to marijuana legalization, federal law remains in place. It will truly be a case of “to each his own.”

Between a rock and a hard place

Unfortunately, this leaves employers of the general workforce at the mercy of state government. Whereas before, they could stand with the Federal Government’s view of marijuana. It is classed as an illicit drug. Many states already limit an employer’s rights in regard to testing employees for THC.

We can’t help but wonder if any of the senators gave a thought to what passing this Bill into law will do to the safety-sensitive workforce at the state level.

It’s reefer madness in reverse

Currently, employers in the safety-sensitive workforce are federally mandated by the DOT to drug test their employees. If they remove jurisdiction the federal level, employers falling in the safety-sensitive realm become forced to comply at the state level.

That doesn’t bode well.

Some safety-sensitive employees involved in collisions had marijuana in their system.

In brief, an Amtrak train derailed in April 2016 when it collided with a piece of maintenance equipment on the track. The driver tested positive for marijuana, the two workers killed on the track were under the influence of synthetic opioids or cocaine.

In addition, in March of this year, a trucker who collided with a train had marijuana in his system at the time of the accident.

Sadly, the list could continue. Obviously, safety-sensitive employees already disregard protocol and perform their duties high. What will happen if legalization at the state level ties an employers hands in regard to employee drug testing?

Put on the brakes

This measure will allow future steps that destroy employers efforts to promote a drug free workplace.

We urge you to take a stand against the STATES Act. Contact your state senators and representatives. Let them know what you foresee in regards to passing the STATES Act and your business. If you don’t employ safety-sensitive employers, add your thoughts to that topic, as well.

Time is of the essence, do it today!

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