What Impact Has State Legalization of Marijuana Had On Trucking?

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has sent out a questionnaire to shipping companies, inquiring about safety and other issues related to the legalization of marijuana on the state level. The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) published a report in 2019 examining the potential effects of legalized recreational marijuana on the trucking business.

Eleven states had already legalized recreational marijuana use at that point. The figure has nearly doubled to 20 since then, which is what prompted this latest study. The original research focused on the threat posed to public safety by the rising number of people who drive while high.

Because of the sudden surge in legalization efforts at the state level, ATRI decided to investigate the topic again, but this time from a broader perspective. The ATRI has previously found that states with legalized recreational marijuana have a higher rate of drivers under the influence.

The ATRI Research Advisory Committee voted in favor of studying recreational marijuana use in March 2022. The project aims to better comprehend the evolving road environment to ensure the safety of truck drivers and other motorists. You have till March 17 to fill out the anonymous carrier survey.

The findings will be included in an upcoming ATRI report that will examine the many ways in which legal marijuana has affected the transportation sector. The group is now planning more studies to include in the report.

Gray Areas in Legalization

Although marijuana legalization is gaining support, it has only been implemented at the state level thus far. When it comes to federal law, medical or recreational marijuana use is prohibited. Drivers are subject to random drug tests per the mandates of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency.

A regulatory quagmire is created by this dual strategy. Despite the fact that it is against the law in every country to drive while under the influence of drugs, there is no medical test that can determine with certainty whether or not a driver is under the influence of marijuana.

Although a physical observation test for intoxication may be open to interpretation, how do police officers determine with any degree of accuracy whether or not a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs? If a truck driver fails a drug test but resides in a state where recreational usage is permitted, should the company take any action?

Vice President of ATRI Jeffrey Short argues, “There is no quantitative drug testing to identify impairment.” This survey takes a broader view of the issue by inquiring about studies into the dangers of drinking and driving and whether or not these studies’ findings have changed since legalization. Then, we’ll look at the effects on the workforce and other workforce-related topics.

This is the kind of information we are hoping to receive from trucking companies, so please tell us what you think the new survey will reveal. In spite of the abundance of data available, it would be helpful to hear from a variety of motor carriers on the realities of the situation in both legal and illegal jurisdictions.

The purpose of ATRI’s study is to compare the states where Marijuana usage is legal versus those where it is still prohibited, as seen through the eyes of carriers. As it is illegal for professional truck drivers to use marijuana for any purpose.

The study will also investigate how the ban on marijuana use is affecting the recruitment efforts of trucking firms and the attitudes of both current and prospective drivers. Since marijuana’s legal status varies widely from one jurisdiction to the next, researchers want to find out what support the business requires at the federal and state levels.


Sheela Sharma

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