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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The shortage of truck drivers in America is directly related to the legalization of marijuana

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The use of the drug by commercial truck drivers has reached a peak not seen since 2019, and the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is determined to uncover the reasons behind it. ATRI embarked on a mission to collect information from carriers about safety and related concerns arising from the legalization of marijuana at the state level. ATRI aims to demystify the rise in drug use among commercial truck drivers through a series of questions.

Previous ATRI research has revealed a link between a rise in the number of drivers operating under the influence and the enactment of laws legalizing recreational marijuana. In light of these findings, the ATRI Research Advisory Committee is poised to delve deeper into the implications for recreational marijuana use. With a renewed focus on this issue, the panel aims to uncover vital insights into the impact of legalization of recreational marijuana on road safety.

As of December 2022, the latest Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse data indicates an 18% rise in positive drug tests and drug test refusals. The numbers jumped from 59,011 last year to 69,668. Marijuana use accounted for most of the increase, at 31.6% The number of violations recorded in 2022 increased to 40,916.

According to FreightWaves, positive drug tests for 12 of the 14 subjects monitored by the database showed an increase, with only hydrocodone and heroin showing a decrease. Despite the alarming numbers, experts note that the clearing house is working as intended.

“The statistics are staggering, but it’s clear the clearinghouse is hitting its mark,” B. Sean Garney, co-director of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, told FreightWaves.

As FreightWaves reported, the legalization of cannabis may be a contributing factor, although it is still illegal under federal law. Commercial truck drivers with valid medical marijuana permits They may have difficulty choosing between their job and their medical cannabis requirements.

The relationship between commercial truck driver deficiency and cannabis testing

The commercial truck industry is no stranger to challenges. In recent years, the shortage of commercial truck drivers has been one of the most pressing issues in the industry. This shortage is caused by various factors, including an aging workforce, regulatory changes, and the enticement of other industries with more favorable working conditions.

At the same time, the issue of cannabis testing has emerged as a critical concern in the trucking industry. With the legalization of cannabis in many states, commercial truck drivers who use cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes are removed from their jobs due to drug testing policies.

In the past 12 months, many truck drivers’ licenses have been revoked due to cannabis use. Alarmingly, many of these drivers fail to take the necessary actions to restore their licenses, potentially accelerating the current shortage of commercial drivers and exacerbating supply chain difficulties across the United States.

According to Garni, the report notes that pre-employment screening detects twice as many positive drug tests than random tests conducted on drivers in 2022.

Speaking at the Tennessee Recruitment and Retention Conference, American Trucking Association chief economist Bob Costello predicted that the driver shortage could see some improvement this year. However, he warned that if the industry fails to implement long-term solutions, the shortage could rise to more than 160,000 drivers by 2031. The industry must take decisive action to address this problem before it spirals out of control.

Transportation Topics reported that Costello sounded the alarm, stating that the demographics of the current pool of drivers, along with increasing industry demand, presents a serious challenge. Costello warned of dire consequences if this problem is not addressed effectively, such as empty store shelves due to a lack of drivers. The situation requires urgent attention and action to resolve it.

Unfortunately, this is a complex problem that needs to be resolved. While strict drug testing policies may help ensure the safety of the public, they may also discourage potential drivers from entering the industry, exacerbating driver shortages. Likewise, relaxing drug testing policies may help attract drivers but it also hurts safety and leads to negative consequences.

Ultimately, the relationship between commercial truck driver deficiency and cannabis testing is a delicate balance that requires careful consideration and reflection. It is necessary to assess the advantages and disadvantages of different policies to ensure the safety of drivers and the public while addressing the challenges of driver shortages. Only by doing so can the industry continue to thrive and grow sustainably and responsibly.

Difficulty detecting cannabis-induced weakness.

The challenge of identifying cannabis-induced impairment among truck drivers is a growing concern in the transportation industry. As more states legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine whether drivers are fit to safely operate commercial vehicles.

Unlike alcohol, which has a clear, universally accepted standard for disability, there is no consensus on the threshold for cannabis use. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, can remain in a person’s system for days or weeks after use, making it difficult to determine if a driver is a malfunction. Furthermore, roadside testing for cannabis impairments is not yet widely available, which means that law enforcement officials and employers often rely on subjective assessments of drivers’ behavior and cognitive abilities.

This challenge is of particular concern to the transportation industry, as poor driving is a significant risk factor for road accidents, injuries, and deaths. Truck drivers, in particular, are responsible for moving billions of dollars worth of goods, making their safe and reliable operation a critical component of the supply chain. As such, there is an urgent need to develop accurate, reliable, and standardized methods for identifying cannabis vulnerability among truck drivers to ensure their own safety, the safety of other road users, and the smooth operation of the transportation industry.


The relationship between truck driver deficiency and cannabis testing cannot be ignored. As more and more truck drivers lose their licenses due to positive cannabis tests, commercial driver shortages may worsen, exacerbating supply chain challenges across the United States. It is critical to address this issue through long-term solutions, such as developing accurate and standardized methods for identifying cannabis vulnerability among truck drivers, to ensure the safety of all road users and the smooth operation of the transportation industry.

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