The Canadian Trucking Alliance told Health Canada the government should not make exceptions for commercial truck drivers using medicinal marijuana while on the job and suggested there should be more oversight on the medical community for prescribing the drug to workers in safety sensitive positions.
In a letter to Health Canada, CTA reiterated its stance there should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana. And while truck drivers already have an exemplary safety record and are statistically far less likely to be driving while impaired than all other vehicle drivers (only 0.7% of impaired violations were tractor-trailer drivers), impending legalization will carry greater risks for motor carriers and have a significant impact on society and the workplace.
Consequently, CTA is asking the government to follow the U.S. approach of not differentiating between recreational and medical use of marijuana among drivers and urged greater accountability for those prescribing medical marijuana to workers involved in safety sensitive positions.
“As we understand it, many prescribing physicians are unaware of what their patients do for a living,” says CTA president Stephen Laskowski. “In turn, some people who are medically authorized to use marijuana might believe this somehow exempts them from impaired driving laws. Obviously in the case of safety sensitive work, such as trucking which shares its workplace with the motoring public, this can be of serious concern.”
CTA suggested, at the very least, prescribing physicians should sign-off they are aware of what their patient does for a living and affirm marijuana is the most appropriate treatment for the condition.
“If the true goal is public safety for all road users then it shouldn’t matter whether it’s being used for recreational or medicinal purposes,” says Laskowski. “Commercial drivers are already held to the highest standards of safety and this shouldn’t be any different.”
CTA also echoed statements it made to other government agencies that motor carriers need more legislative support to implement zero tolerance and random testing policies without being at risk of human rights challenges.
“While its already standard industry practice for companies to adhere to strict zero-tolerance policies requiring drivers to be 100 per cent sober while on the job, it is imperative employers are free to apply the appropriate workplace measures that will mitigate additional safety risks to employees and the public that legalized marijuana could bring,” says Laskowski.
Although there could be some opposition towards zero tolerance and random testing as well as enhanced requirements for prescribing physicians, Laskowski stressed “when dealing with safety sensitive work and the overall well-being of Canadians on the roadways, safety should be the number one priority.”