truck drivers cannabis test
truck drivers cannabis test

DOT Reports over 70,000 Truckers Have Tested Positive for Cannabis in the Last 36 Months

Supply chain issues have been exasperated by truckers not being able to drive due to weed

Posted by:
Joseph Billions on Friday Sep 9, 2022

truck drivers testing postive for weed

Over 70,080 Truckers Have Been Sidelined for Weed Tests Since 2020.

While cannabis may be consumed legally by some, it is not the same for truckers and a selected few. For this reason, many claims that the current drug testing policies are unfair and unreliable for workers in some industries.


A state cannabis legislation does not eliminate the possibility of being tested for drugs by your employer. Some workers with a medical cannabis prescription can use drugs without fearing legal consequences. Sensitive job positions that involve driving, lifting, or risky activities require drug screenings at regular intervals. Employers don't consider this partial, as this drug screen shows whether or not an employee should be left in the role.


Cannabis Use for Truckers

In the last two years, the Department of Transportation reported that over 70,800 truckers tested positive for cannabis use. This year alone, at least 10,000 truckers have failed their regular drug tests due to a significant presence of cannabinoids in their systems.


With the increasing spread of cannabis legislation, this situation could get worse. These truckers claim that they're unaware that they can't use medical cannabis even if their state has decriminalized cannabis use. An Alabama truck company explained that their driver isn't permitted to use cannabis, whether on vacation or off duty, regardless of if they're in a legal state or not.


The increasingly popular positive drug screenings have resulted in a massive loss of drivers and a rising concern over what this could do to the supply chain. In the last six months, more truckers have been let go because kf failed tests.


The unreliable nature of cannabis tests

Many truckers have raised concerns about the unreliability of cannabis testing. THC, the euphoric chemical element in cannabis, can be detected in doping tests several days after a person has used it. In certain circumstances, a positive outcome can occur weeks after use. Any effects a truck driver may have felt would have been dissipated well before the exam.


Earlier this year, Democrat Representative, Earl Blumenauer, called for the Department of Transportation to review some of its policies toward cannabis use. He told Pete Buttigieg, transportation secretary, that current drug tests are lacking in some areas. He stressed that he wasn't in support of impaired driving but instead a clean and transparent cannabis test. The representative is not the only one to call for changes, yet no policy has been reviewed.


Drivers continue to travel in the gray area established by state marijuana legalization legislation and federal law, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I prohibited narcotic. According to the DOT handbook on alcohol and drug testing, "Although states may permit medicinal marijuana use, federal laws and policies do not acknowledge any valid medical marijuana usage. Even if a state legalizes marijuana use, DOT regulations consider it the same as any other illegal narcotic."


The truck driver shortage is getting worse.

According to the American Trucking Association, the truck driver deficit is already at 80,000 and could reach 160,000 by 2030. Premature lay-offs during the pandemic and an increase in the need for general freight transportation are two factors contributing to the shortfall. The issue has received attention, but the usual trend of more truckers being taken off the wheel due to drug tests—has not changed. Compared to the 7,750 breaches over the same period in 2021, 10,276 truckers failed a drug test between January and March 2022, a 32.6 percent increase.


Getting drivers back on the road can take months and involves several procedures. Many people have chosen never to go back. According to DOT data, of the 119,113 truck drivers removed from the road after failing a drug test, around 67,368 have not even started the "return to work" training. This evaluation takes months to complete. Hence, many drivers see often put off undergoing the training and choose to seek employment elsewhere.


Easing the looming supply chain crisis

The Biden administration promises to increase the number of commercial truck drivers on the road to assist clear up the nation's economic supply chain bottlenecks.


However, a federal prohibition on marijuana usage that has forced tens of thousands of drivers out of business is one hurdle the government put in the way of that objective.


According to industry insiders and court records, Washington's zero-tolerance policy toward marijuana had ensnared drivers who only used marijuana when they weren't at work and those who ingested products made from hemp, like CBD oil, that are touted as being non-psychoactive. Cross-country truckers must also navigate a maze of perplexing state laws as marijuana is permitted for recreational use in 18 states and medical purposes in another 37.


In Nevada, where marijuana use is legal for recreational purposes, Paul Enos, CEO of the Nevada Trucking Association, claimed that tests that detect usage from weeks prior drive people out of the profession who aren't necessarily a hazard on the highways.


When you consider how many people are giving up driving, it is a problem for our industry, according to Enos.

He continued by saying that removing drug-using drivers from the road can prevent drunk driving. However, a fair impairment test that won't make our streets any less safe would benefit us all. This way, when a driver tests positive for drugs, the trucking companies can promptly dismiss them, but for the driver to get back on the road, they would need an employer sponsor.


Bottom Line

American companies need more truckers, but it will be best to find a permanent solution to the problem of cannabis test policies before they're hired in mass. Else, it would still end in massive layoffs and suspensions due to unreliable drug tests.


The crunch on the supply chain is one of the reasons for the rising inflation and scarcity of certain goods. The earlier the government can sort this transport issue, the faster they can get goods out of ports and warehouses ti lessens the supply chain crunch.


Cannabis advocates urge the federal government to promote opportunities for women and veterans to enter the truck driving field while reviewing current cannabis testing policies.





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