2024-04-17

Should We Let Truck Drivers Toke?

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There are many sectors of our economy whose policies have not kept up with our societal views on cannabis. One of them being truck drivers, who are a vital part of our infrastructure and supply chain. This industry is already hurting for workers, and the creation of a drug testing program in 2020 has only worsened the shortage. 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has reported that since 2020 more than 166,000 drivers have failed a marijuana test. In 2022 alone almost 41,000 truck drivers tested positive for marijuana, which is a 32 percent increase from the previous year. Eric Miller, a reporter who covers the DOT for Transport Topics said, “ Professional drivers are not allowed to use marijuana, even for medical reasons. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the DOT add a warning label to cannabis products regarding the potential for driving impairment, make enhancements to state drug-impaired driving laws, and standardize technology testing to detect drug use.” Miller also explains that drivers who have failed drug tests can reenter the workforce by consulting with their doctor and developing a treatment plan that includes multiple drug tests. But the kicker is only 46,000 drivers have completed this process, and are eligible to drive again. The other 120,000 drivers still are not able to work, because they have not completed the return-to-drive process. 

This leads to the real problem with not allowing truck drivers to partake in marijuana. The American Trucking Association said that last fall there was a driver shortage of 78,000. It takes no expertise to understand that there are 120,000 drivers who cannot drive because of a failed drug test, and the industry is experiencing a labor shortage of 78,000. This is where the solution to the problem lies. It is understandable that people wouldn’t want their truck drivers to be high while driving. But these are people who already have driving experience, and know the ins-and-outs of the job. Trucking is a core part of our capitalist infrastructure. The country is already experiencing a supply chain disaster. We need these drivers to deliver goods to ensure further supply chain issues are avoided. It seems like the DOT is just worsening the problem by adding this drug test. 

The only real issue I see with allowing truck drivers to engage in marijuana usage is somehow ensuring they are not high while driving. There is truly no way to prove you are high or not high. But many companies are working on a reliable testing system which will help mitigate this problem.

Sources: wtop

Images: Quentin Gellar, Kagan Bastimar

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