Marijuana & Trucking Industry: How Legalization Impacts Inland Freight

Posted by Fernando Correa ● Dec 12, 2019 9:35:35 AM

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More than 93 million Americans live where marijuana is now legal for recreational use. Between medical marijuana use and more states liberalizing the recreational use of marijuana, it is no wonder that there are concerns on how it will impact inland freight. 

In addition to individual states passing different laws, there is a need for more uniform regulations on what constitutes "driving while impaired" for interstate workers such as freight carriers. In trying to "weed" through these concerns, the American Trucking Association (ATA) is researching and lobbying concerning potential safety issues common-sense approaches to guiding future marijuana legislation from the federal government. 


Safety Concerns with Trucker Marijuana Use

Safety Concerns with Trucker Marijuana Use

A trucker is not permitted to drive while intoxicated with alcohol. The same is true for being intoxicated from marijuana. However, once the alcohol wears off, the trucker is then considered sober. The same is not valid for someone who has smoked or ingested marijuana because impairment can linger longer

Also, there is no scientific method currently available to determine whether a driver is still under the influence of marijuana like there is for detecting alcohol in the bloodstream. Standard drug tests can show someone has used marijuana in the past. However, these tests cannot positively show that someone is in what would be considered an "intoxicated state" from marijuana.

For example, a trucker might have a few drinks at night that would make them impaired at the time of consumption. By morning, their blood-alcohol level will have returned to normal, making them legally able to drive. However, a driver who had smoked marijuana the night before might no longer be technically "impaired," but the window of being classified as such still exists.

Safety legislation regarding legal marijuana use is not just a concern for truck drivers, either. Freight carriers spend their days driving and are sharing the road with other motorists who may be driving under the influence of marijuana.


Different Truck Drivers


The Need to Protect Carrier Rights

The American Trucking Association recognizes the need to protect both the rights of carriers and the general public who share the road. It is a plain fact, though, that carriers stand to lose when dangerous accidents occur involving marijuana use.

The current goal of ATA is to protect the industry by advocating for the following:

  • Employers' rights to maintain a drug-free workplace, including regular drug testing for all employees.
  • The lifting of federal restrictions on marijuana research so more data can show impairment impact.
  • The creation of a "marijuana victims compensation fund" paid for by dispensaries, cultivators, and manufacturers.

What the ATA Wants from the Feds 

The ATA already has existing policies in place asking the government to:

  • Allow the use of alternative drug testing methods.
  • Create a national database of positive drug and alcohol test results.
  • Implement strong anti-impairment driving laws.
  • In the ATA's eyes, the existing policies put in place by the federal government are not enough to address the safety issues faced by carriers. These new policies regarding marijuana promoted by the ATA were developed by the organization's own "Controlled Substances and Driver Health and Wellness Working Group."

Keeping the highways safe for all is a concern for everyone associated with the trucking industry, especially those who spend the most time on our roads, keeping America connected!




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Topics: Trucking industry