Today's Trucking
opinions Mike McCarron

Prepare to go green in 2018

Posted: January 9, 2018 by Mike McCarron

The only thing to like about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is that he’s proving to be a man of his word and keeping his campaign promises.

Like most, I wasn’t surprised (or disappointed) when he announced that recreational pot will be legal here as of Canada Day. By most estimates recreational marijuana is a $4 billion business, and within a decade the market is expected to explode and exceed $22 billion. The country stands to make millions in taxes.

But legalizing weed is going to a big headache for carriers. What does “going green” mean for our industry and your fleet? Here are some things worth considering:

What’s your policy?

Your best driver, Rocky, smokes a daily fatty to deal with chronic back pain. It’s prescribed by his family doctor and legal — that is, until he gets behind the wheel. Then what?

The limit at which truck drivers will be declared impaired under criminal law is still up for debate. Canadian trucking associations are calling for zero tolerance. Many human resources professionals are suggesting marijuana needs to be treated like other legal substances, like Lipitor to manage your cholesterol.

What if Rocky worked on your dock or in customer service? The only thing stopping him from lighting up is a company policy that many view as discriminatory and possibly unenforceable if the dope is prescribed by a doc.

It’s critical that every fleet clearly articulate and communicate to its employees its policy on impairment, and train people to identify it.

Most trucking companies I have spoken with have done little or nothing to deal with this issue. That’s a mistake because the problem of legal drug use will only grow as the appetite to indulge soars.

The price of dirt

Finding a parcel of suitably zoned real estate to base a trucking business is a challenge in a lot of Canadian cities. Seems that no one wants us as neighbors.

Pot’s going to make it harder. The marijuana industry requires vast amounts of space to grow, store, and distribute its products. One consequence the legalization of pot is having on trucking in Colorado is the rising price of real estate because there was a sudden shortage of available space. Safe to assume this pattern will continue in Canada.

Smoke or drive? 

With so many people getting high, you have to expect huge spikes in positive drug tests, which is certain to exacerbate the shortage of drivers.

Since traces of pot can be detected for up to seven days with a blood test, and three months with a hair follicle test, how many drivers are going to choose getting high and a new profession over trucking? How many border crossers are going to migrate to domestic fleets so they can get high on the weekends without worrying about losing their driving job on Monday?

Since random drug testing is still illegal in Canada, figuring out who’s puffing at work is hit and miss. My suggestion is that you try using this MAT (Munchie Assessment Test): install a vending machine full of free pizza. Pretty sure it won’t take long to figure out who is having fatties for lunch.

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