It seems the growing popularity of cannabis in the U.S. represents a complex issue for the trucking industry. With trucking being federally regulated, cannabis remains prohibited under federal workplace drug testing programs for the over 3.5 million drivers who haul our shipments back and forth across the country.
The subject came up at a Senate Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight and Ports Subcommittee hearing that was called “Freight Mobility: Strengthening America’s Supply Chains and Competitiveness,” and Cannabis Wire took a deep dive.
Participating lawmakers looked at how Congress and other stakeholders could enhance the country’s “transportation infrastructure and supply chains to ensure the continued competitiveness of American freight movement.”
Representatives from the freight and railroad industry, the Teamsters, Port Authorities and Trucking Associations testified.
“Trends and popular opinion do not always lead to good policy,” said Chris Spear, president and CEO of American Trucking Associations. He added that the legalization of cannabis and policies that limit employer drug testing programs are challenging the trucking industry and exposing “critical issues related to workplace and highway safety.”
MORE Act And Truckers
Spear expressed concerns over the initial draft of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which was reintroduced in Congress in late May after the previous year’s version didn’t pass the Senate.
The initial version “neglected to recognize the significant impact that removing marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances would have on highway and workplace safety,” Spear argued.
Impacts Of Cannabis Decriminalization On The Trucking Industry
The trucking industry is, however, trying to keep pace with the evolving regulatory scene.
To determine how cannabis legalization would affect the trucking industry, the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) board of directors recently approved their 2021 Top Research Priorities, and cannabis was on the list.
The study will examine the “impacts of decriminalization on the trucking industry” as an update to its earlier report that analyzed roadway safety and workplace changes in states that were going through cannabis law reform.
Rebecca Brewster, president and CEO of ATRI, told Cannabis Wire that questions around what cannabis legalization implies for the trucking industry continue to come up.
“As we see more states decriminalize, the likelihood that we’re going to be sharing the road with car drivers who are impaired increases. The roadways are our workplace. So we want those roadways to be safe, and we want the drivers of trucks and cars to be free from impairment,” Brewster said.
“But there’s also a realistic view that the world is changing in terms of decriminalization. And we need to understand and not just be in a reactionary mode, we need to understand and prepare for what that means for the trucking industry.”