Article by Tom Angell, Marijuana.com
The U.S. Coast Guard is concerned about what the rescheduling of marijuana could mean for its efforts to keep waterways free of ship captains intoxicated on cannabis.
“Marijuana is a potent drug with well-documented impairing effects on cognitive ability, judgment and reaction time,” reads anew document issued by the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee (MEDMAC), a panel that advises the federal government on medical standards for certified marine vessel operators. “Mariners operating under the influence of this substance pose an unacceptable risk to the Maritime Transportation System.”
Currently, mariners who test positive for marijuana or credentials applicants who admit to using cannabis — even for medical purposes in accordance with state law — are subject to penalty or denial of certification.
But if Congress or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) moved marijuana out of its current status under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act — a category that’s supposed to be reserved for drugs with no medical value — that could change, according to the new notice.
“If the DEA were to change marijuana’s classification from Schedule I to Schedule II, then the use of medical marijuana would fall outside the realm of Coast Guard enforcement action. Mariners with a valid prescription for medical marijuana who are found to have marijuana in their system during drug testing would not have their results reported to the Coast Guard as a positive drug test,” MEDMAC wrote. “Additionally, applicants for merchant mariner medical certification who use medical marijuana would be evaluated in the same manner as applicants on any other medication.”