Is Marijuana Use Among Truck Drivers a Rising Concern?
As marijuana continues to become legal in more and more states, it’s also becoming more widely available and more widely used. And, unfortunately, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) says that marijuana impairment among drivers is likely to become a larger problem as access to the drug increases.
Although ATRI states that the biggest effect on the truck industry will come from other drivers on the road, other studies and reports paint a less optimistic picture of truck drivers and drug use. According to drug testing firm Quest Diagnostics, marijuana use has already increased in every segment of the workforce in the last couple of years. Their report specifically includes truck drivers and other members of the “safety-sensitive” workforce group for whom marijuana use is illegal under federal law.
Keep reading to learn more about the legality of marijuana use and the drug’s impact on health and driving.
RELATED ARTICLE: Truckers Often Keep Driving After Drug Arrests
The Legal Conundrum of Marijuana
Marijuana is still illegal for commercial drivers, including truck drivers, regardless of state laws or medical prescriptions. Commercial drivers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which overrules state laws regarding the drug. Additionally, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I illegal drug.
It’s important to note that just because the drug is legal, doesn’t mean it’s safe to use while or before driving. Driving is still considered impaired even if the impairment is caused by legal prescriptions or recreational drugs. The CDC states that marijuana is second only to alcohol as the substance most linked to impaired drugged driving.
The public may be confused about whether purchasing or using marijuana is legal, but truck drivers have no such excuse. Truck drivers who use marijuana do so fully aware that they are breaking federal law, and therefore, they often hide the habit from their employers and even other truck drivers.
Negative Side Effects of Marijuana Use
According to the CDC, marijuana use can have a variety of negative effects on health. These effects can last hours after taking the drug and include:
- Impaired judgment
- Reduced coordination
- Lasting effect on memory and attention
- Accelerated heartbeat
The most dangerous side effects for driving while high on marijuana are also the most common effects of the drug. Reaction time, decision-making abilities, coordination, memory, and problem-solving skills are all crucial to safe driving and are all negatively affected by marijuana.
Investigating Marijuana Use in Truck Drivers
Because marijuana use is illegal for all truck drivers regardless of state laws or medical prescriptions, truck drivers who are using are usually experts at hiding the habit. Additionally, there are currently no standards for determining whether marijuana is impairing a driver. Blood work can test for marijuana in the system but can only show whether the individual has taken the drug within the last 30 days — not whether the use was recent or enough to impair the driver.
Due to these complications, truck accident cases where drug use is suspected require a skilled and experienced truck accident attorney to investigate the driver involved in your crash and any circumstances that might have led to the incident.
Suspect Marijuana Use Caused Your Truck Crash? Call the Attorneys at Seattle Truck Law
At Seattle Truck Law, our attorneys use years of experience investigating truck drivers and their companies to uncover all the causes of a truck wreck — including marijuana intoxication and other impairments. Proving marijuana use is a complex and time-sensitive process, so if you or a loved one has been the victim of a truck wreck and you suspect drugs are involved, please contact our attorneys as soon as possible.
Marijuana: How Can It Affect Your Health? (2018, February 27). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.