How State Marijuana Legalization Affects Trucking Companies
With more states legalizing recreational marijuana, more people are using marijuana on the job according to Quest Diagnostics, the largest drug-testing firm. They have found that marijuana positive test rates have increased almost 24% among employees (including truck drivers) in the last five years.
By the end of 2019, 33 states will have legalized marijuana use in some way. Today, eleven states have adopted laws for recreational marijuana use. Some experts predict that nine more states may pass marijuana laws in 2020.
Marijuana laws make safety harder for trucking companies
Because not every state has legalized marijuana, trucking companies have a hard time maintaining a drug-free workplace. This is a must in order to protect their employees and the motoring public.
Nationwide, marijuana remains illegal. In this case, truck drivers are not legally allowed to use marijuana. Seems simple enough, right? I wish it was.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations outlines the bare minimum drug and alcohol testing procedures that all trucking companies must follow. However, some safety-conscious companies want to go above and beyond the minimum to ensure their drivers aren’t impaired while on the road.
The result? Good trucking companies are penalized
Many trucking companies use hair testing before hiring and after an accident. Their goal is to discourage their drivers from using marijuana and other drugs. When these companies tell potential employees about their policies, some drivers will go to other companies with relaxed testing policies.
As a result, trucking companies with greater drug screening policies are penalized. They have to pay high wages or provide more benefits to recruit safer drivers. On the other hand, trucking companies with looser drug testing policies never have to pay the price—until one of their drivers is caught by law enforcement.
Not much has been done to fix this … yet
At Shannon Law Group, we hope that the U.S. government can come up with a plan to level the playing field. Their goal should be to encourage trucking companies to use the safest drug screen policies possible.
But we doubt that it is coming anytime soon. In 2015, Congress issued a mandate for hair testing. Four years later, the Department of Health and Human Services has yet to even submit a proposed rule.
Until the right laws are passed, we can only continue to encourage trucking companies to use the best drug testing policies to keep at-risk truck drivers off the roads.