The most common drug-related referral for an aviation psychiatry assessment is a PART 120 POSITIVE DRUG TEST.
Part 120 tests are administered in accordance with Department of Transportation (DOT) rules and regulations. Part 120 tests include no-notice random screenings at the airport. Also, most pre-employment drug screens for a professional pilot will fall under Part 120.
(Alcohol is also screened in a Part 120 test. We are only discussing non-alcohol related substance issues on this page)
A positive on-duty DOT Part 120 test can be a serious violation of multiple regulations and will almost always (always?) require the pilot to have an aviation psychiatric evaluation.
The FAA is a federal agency and follows the federal interpretation of what counts as an illegal drug. MARIJUANA in all forms is a DEA Class I drug.
It doesn’t matter if your state has medicalized, decriminalized, or legalized marijuana. If you have a positive cannabis/marijuana test, you have tested positive for an illegal drug according to the FAA. Expect scrutiny.
Traffic violations connected to the use of illegal drugs may cause the pilot a few more complications with the FAA than an alcohol-related traffic violation. I am not making an argument that drug-impaired driving is higher or lower-risk than alcohol-related driving. It all depends on the individual circumstance of your case. But, if you have a drug-related traffic stop, the FAA interprets that you
- may have possessed an illegal drug
- may have used an illegal drug
- may have used an illegal drug in a way that was dangerous to yourself and the public