Time to revisit marijuana rules for truckers

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I’ve never been fond of drugs, legal or otherwise. Alcohol, weed, uppers, downers — none have held any appeal to me. It could be that I’m a control freak who doesn’t like giving up control.

So, this may shock you. I feel we need to revamp our laws concerning marijuana as it pertains to trucking.

I still grind a few gears in my own brain when I try to navigate this one. You see, many of us are alive because of legal drugs. The irony is not lost on me.

I can take legal drugs that could impair me and they won’t show up in a random test. If I consumed some form of marijuana 30 days ago, I would probably be in trouble.

In the recent article More data is needed on drug impaired driving, the Canadian Centre for Substance use and Addiction wrote that “nearly half of the drivers who died in 2016…tested positive for impairing drugs.”

I think that’s very misleading. Stay with me here. Most if not all of us take something every day that impairs us. According to the CDC, “Impairment is an absence of or significant difference in a person’s body structure or function or mental functioning.”

Under this definition, coffee is an impairing drug. In fact, coffee was outlawed as recently as 1834 in Sweden. You need a coffee to get going? Apparently, you’re impaired.

traffic light with marijuana leaf
(Photo: iStock)

You need a drug to manage pain? You’re impaired. Any one of them impairs you. What we are and aren’t allowed to consume often comes down to money.

We’d heard for decades that weed was a gateway drug that will lead you down a dark pathway. Trudeau made legalization of weed an election priority and smoked the competition.

You just need to buy it at a registered place from registered growers. That will stop it from being a gateway drug? That will stop people from over-using?

Has anyone heard of weed being mixed with other stuff? Sure. From the same people who say it’s a gateway drug.

I spoke to a former drug dealer about the dangers of marijuana. What almost killed him many more times was alcohol. Totally legal. Alcohol impaired his judgement so much that he spent 2-1/2 years in prison.

It seems strange. He could get drunk and then sober up in a day and get back in his semi. He could do a line of coke and three days later still pass a drug test. He cannot smoke a joint or use cannabis to help with chronic pain for a month prior to driving.

How is this right?

The last time he went away for almost three years in prison, he almost died from alcohol withdrawal. If he quits smoking tobacco, he will have a very rough time.

Remember, I can’t stand drunks or drug users but I can’t see why an herb is so maligned in our society.

If breathalyzers were foolproof we wouldn’t have so many lawyers winning DUI cases.

Maybe it’s time we revisit our impaired laws.

If you want to be a truck driver, go for baseline tests. Do all tests such as breath, urine and blood. Have different exercises set up that rate your balance, coordination and logic. If you’re involved in a fatality or serious collision, then redo all the tests to see what has changed.

Before you think this is too far, let me remind you that we already do some things like this. After a severe crash I was put on medication and not allowed to drive until I could prove I wasn’t a danger to others. It wasn’t fun but it was necessary to complete so I could get back to providing for my family.

I’m sure medically monitored marijuana would help me with the side-effects I still deal with today. It’s probably even better for my health than the legal drugs that I use today.

Driving for a living is a big responsibility but let’s advocate for some common sense to prevail.

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David Henry is a longhaul driver, Bell Let's Talk representative and creator/cohost of the Crazy Canuck Truckin podcast. His passion is mental health and presenting a better image for trucking to the public.

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  • I do use any illegal drugs or alcohol
    WEED is a very difficult to control. I think all first yr truck drivers and cross border drivers should get tested 4 times a year