The American Trucking Associations (ATA) endorsed a set of marijuana-related policies on Tuesday, and that includes lifting federal restrictions on cannabis research.
A working group that studied the impact of state-level legalization efforts developed a series of recommendations aimed at improving safety on the roads and preventing impaired driving by truckers.
Among the stances that ATA’s Board of Directors approved is a position in support of increasing marijuana research, specifically when it comes to studies on impairment and drug testing technology. To encourage such investigations, the group said that it supports “lifting federal restrictions on marijuana research,” according to a copy of the recommendations that was shared with Marijuana Moment.
It’s not clear what ATA is specifically advocating for in order to lift those research barriers, but there’s general agreement that rescheduling cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act represents one essential tool to accomplish that. A representative for the organization did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on its position regarding cannabis scheduling.
“Research on marijuana should include the effects of mixed-use (alcohol and marijuana) and polydrug use (marijuana and other controlled substances)” as well as “the use of oral fluid testing in developing impairment standards,” ATA, which represents more than 37,000 members, said.
Other recommendations from the organization’s Controlled Substances and Driver Health and Wellness Working Group include developing a policy that ensures employers can drug test drivers for marijuana, pursuing regulatory and legislation changes to permit drug testing “alternative specimens” such as hair and saliva. As it stands, the U.S. Department of Transportation only permits testing of urine samples.
ATA also supports the creation of a “marijuana victim’s compensation fund” that would be funded by cannabis dispensaries, growers and manufacturers. The policy doesn’t lay out who would be eligible for compensation or exactly how the funding would be sourced from industry participants.
Another recommendation that could be viewed as particularly controversial endorses the adoption of state and federal legislation that would “require that each time marijuana is dispensed to an individual, it is reported to the state” prescription drug monitoring program.
“ATA has long been an advocate for reducing impaired driving—in all its forms—so it only makes sense that we would call upon state and federal governments to consider the impact of increased use of marijuana on our roadways,” ATA President Chris Spear said in a press release. “As an industry that operates in all 50 states and across national borders, we need all levels of government to help us keep our roads and drivers drug-free.”
“This policy allows us to, while recognizing that the modern world is changing, advocate for strong, safety-oriented policies backed by sound science and data,” he added.
The list goes on to recommend support for impaired driving laws that allow law enforcement to prosecute drivers who are under the influence, increasing federal funding for drug recognition experts and facilities to test samples for evidence of drug use, creating a frequently asked questions guide to help the industry keep up with federal and state regulations, promoting the working group’s recommendations through congressional lobbying and public affairs channels and creating education programs in partnership with allies.
Working group members “are confident implementation of the Working Group’s recommendations is the first step to help mitigate the impacts of marijuana legalization on highway safety or the trucking industry’s ability to recruit and hire qualified individuals,” the document states.
Marijuana was a topic of conversation during a session at ATA’s conference this week.
Spear also briefly discussed cannabis policy during a keynote speech at the event, offering a window into the organization’s rationale behind establishing the working group.
“Eleven states, D.C. and Canada have now legalized the recreational use of marijuana, all while our federal government turns a blind eye,” he said. “And guess who gets caught in the middle?”
“You can just see the trial lawyers, sitting on the edge of their high, wing-back leather chairs, drooling over the thought of more legal ambiguity. We can’t just sit back and hand them yet another opportunity to litigate our industry,” he said. “To change direction, we need a member-led policy platform that helps lawmakers, regulators and courts make informed decisions about the impact substance abuse is having on safety and interstate commerce.”
Jaeger, Kyle. “Major Trucking Industry Group Urges Feds To Lift Marijuana Research Roadblocks.” Marijuana Moment, 10 Oct. 2019, www.marijuanamoment.net/major-trucking-industry-group-urges-feds-to-lift-marijuana-research-roadblocks/.