The American Transportation Research Institute wants carriers to weigh in on whether federal drug testing policies for CDL holders should change, given the growing number of states legalizing marijuana.
More than 20 states, most recently Maryland and Missouri, have now legalized recreational marijuana. ATRI’s new survey, Impacts of Marijuana Legalization on the Trucking Industry, is open for submissions until March 17.
“States are moving quickly to legalize recreational marijuana use,” Fred Fakkema, vice president of safety and compliance at Zonar Systems and Chairman of the American Trucking Associations' Law Enforcement Advisory Board, said in a statement. “This rapid change directly impacts fleets and their workforce; ATRI’s research will help quantify those impacts.”
The survey contains two dozen questions, including carriers’ hiring practices, how they treat various kinds of drug violations, and whether they have noticed an increase in positive drug tests and/or candidates leaving when they learn a drug test is required.
The survey provides opportunities for carriers to elaborate on specific topics, including:
- whether they are concerned about legalizations’ impact on drivers and insurance rates;
- whether they would prefer the use of a test that measured a driver’s or recruit’s current marijuana impairment or use within the past day, as opposed to the current test, which can pick up use many weeks prior;
- the number of drivers a carrier has reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse each year from 2019 to 2022 due to a positive marijuana test;
- the number of drivers who have completed the required return-to-duty process and returned to a company.
Drug violations — and marijuana, specifically — are sidelining drivers as the trucking industry faces near-record demand for labor that is only expected to increase.
FMCSA driver data between January 2020 and April 2022 found that 98% of testing results involved drugs, as opposed to alcohol. In that time, marijuana dominated positive results more than all other drugs combined.
ATA President and CEO Chris Spear testified this month before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee about the “channel conflict” created by federal rules prohibiting any marijuana use by CDL holders and increasing state-level legalization.
“This ambiguity is creating a litigious environment, and we’re caught right in the middle of it,” Spear said.