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Bus drivers were given brownies laced with pot in San Diego

A bus driver brought brownies to work and offered them to other drivers. Three ate brownies, but they didn’t know they were laced with pot. The three drivers were told to undergo drug counseling after the incident, but two of them refused.

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) bus driver Ku’uipoaloha Lawler is accused of providing the pot brownies to the other drivers. MTS fired him, and San Diego police have turned over results of their investigation to the District Attorney for consideration.

There was more controversy about what should happen to the three drivers who unknowingly consumed pot in the brownies.

On the day Lawler brought the brownies to work, all three of the drivers who ate them went on their regular routes but pulled over when they realized what was happening. MTS sent replacement drivers to take over.

The three drivers were required to provide urine samples and were placed on paid leave. MTS said they had to submit to substance-abuse counseling before returning to work in a capacity other than driving a bus.

One driver agreed to the conditions, but two objected and refused to go to the counseling.

Mark Hall, one of the two drivers who objected to the MTS conditions, took his case public, to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

It certainly didn’t seem fair that Hall and the two other drivers had to undergo drug counseling when they didn’t know they were eating pot brownies.

Hall says people even asked Lawler whether the brownies had pot in them, and he denied it.

Federal regulations kick in

But there was a problem: Federal Transit Administration safety regulations require bus drivers to undergo substance-abuse counseling when they have a positive drug test.

MTS said it wanted to treat the drivers fairly, but it had to wait for a federal waiver.

About a month after the incident, the feds finally issued the waiver. The three drivers didn’t have to undergo counseling, and they were allowed to return to bus driving.

Although the MTS employees needed a waiver from federal regulations to go back to driving, they wouldn’t have faced criminal DUI charges if they were pulled over. Criminal law has an exception for involuntary intoxication when the affected person didn’t know they were ingesting a mind-altering substance.

Do you think the system worked as it should have in this case, or should it have been easier for the three bus drivers to go back to their jobs?

October 19, 2012 by Fred HosierImage

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