WA State Regulators Remind Tour Bus Companies: "No Marijuana on the bus"

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Today, transportation safety regulators issued a notice to Washington state charter and excursion bus operators reminding them that the consumption or use of marijuana products on their vehicles by passengers or drivers is prohibited by state law.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) issued the notice after several transportation companies filed permit applications to provide marijuana-themed tour bus services.

Citing multiple state laws and a concern for public safety, the commission stated that charter and excursion vehicles, drivers, and passengers are considered to be in view of the general public, therefore, the consumption or use of marijuana products on board a charter or excursion vehicle is prohibited.

The notice also referenced a state law that prohibits smoking in public or at a place of employment and a federal safety regulation that prohibits the use of marijuana by commercial motor vehicle drivers.

The companies were notified that failure to comply with the law will result in the cancellation of their state-issued operating permit.

In April, the commission published a report about the safety of charter and excursion “party buses” and made recommendations to improve safety and oversight of the developing industry, which the commission will ask the Legislature to consider in the 2015 session. The report found numerous incidents across the country involving party buses that resulted in injuries and fatalities.

Commission staff found no record of reported deaths or accidents in Washington state. However, in 2012 an 11-year-old girl was killed after falling through an emergency window of a party bus in Oregon. The operator, Five Star Limousine, also operated in Washington. The UTC subsequently revoked the company’s permit to operate in the state.

The UTC regulates the rates and services of telecommunications companies, investor-owned electric utilities, natural gas and water companies, garbage-collection haulers, household-goods movers and charter-bus companies, commercial ferries, pipeline companies, and a low-level radioactive waste repository.