The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) hosted a meeting with members of the South Asian trucking community on changes in the trucking industry in Canada last night, including changes in marijuana laws, electric and autonomous vehicles, cross international borders, and more.
According to TruckNews.com, the town hall meeting was the first event OTA has held with the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen Laskowski, president of the OTA, mentioned that trucking employers may have to change ‘zero tolerance’ policies around cannabis use if they want to attract younger drivers who may want to use marijuana in their off time.
Jonathan Blackham, policy and government affairs assistant, warned carriers that the legalization of marijuana in Canada is inevitable. What this means for trucking companies remains unclear. A recent Task Force report commissioned by the federal government put forward more than 80 recommendations and touched on the two main concerns of the trucking industry, Blackham said: impairment while driving and the use of marijuana by employees in safety-sensitive occupations, including truck driving.
“The Task Force was tough on impaired driving, but not as tough when it came to safety-sensitive positions,” Blackham said.
Carriers will need to update their drug and alcohol policies once marijuana is legalized, he warned. The OTA is conducting research to see how these policies will need to be updated and hopes to have materials available later this year.
Laskowski said trucking employers will also have to consider whether a zero-tolerance policy for marijuana use is realistic going forward. He said the industry may have trouble attracting younger drivers in the future if they’re not allowed to consume marijuana on weekends. The problem, he said, is that while there are tests available today to test impairment by alcohol, no such tests currently exist for marijuana.
The legalization of marijuana is a “societal change,” Laskowski noted, which will require the trucking industry to adapt. He suggested Canadian employers should be allowed to conduct random drug and alcohol testing once marijuana is legalized, but that too is still up for debate.
How to properly measure and penalize for impaired driving with cannabis is a complex issue the government and law enforcement are currently trying to find solutions to. Several companies are developing drug testing devices that will give accurate readings of cannabinoids within the body, but determining impairment solely on these levels is difficult because cannabis can stay in your system for days or weeks, long after any impairment has passed.
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