That was the key takeaway from Dr. Barry Kurtzer of DriveCheck, who presented an interesting seminar recently for the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada. He presented it twice actually, in Truro, N.S. and then again in Ontario last week. I attended the Ontario edition but Sonia Straface covered his presentation in Eastern Canada and filed this report.
We’re reported pretty extensively on the use of medical marijuana in the workplace and how trucking firms may have to accommodate domestic drivers who rely on it. The number of people using medical marijuana is exploding and now with Justin Trudeau in charge, it’s quite likely recreational use – if legalized – could be on the rise as well.
We already love our pot here in Canada, stats suggest, even if it’s used illicitly.
As Dr. Kurtzer explained, the rules regarding the use of medical marijuana by truck drivers travelling to the US are clear: Don’t do that. The US does not accept the use of medical marijuana by professional drivers. Don’t even try it.
For domestic drivers the picture is much hazier. Clearly you don’t want your drivers smoking pot while on their shift. But what about the night before? The laws regarding medical marijuana use are full of contradictions.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada claim that patients shouldn’t drive after four hours of inhalation; six hours of oral ingestion; or eight hours after inhalation or ingestion if the patient experiences euphoria. But Health Canada says impairment can last up to 24 hours following medical marijuana use. What gives?
In Canada, there’s an expectation on employers to accommodate their employees to the point of undue hardship. You may have to give drivers a desk job while they’re using medical marijuana.
Dr. Kurtzer said companies need to have a medical marijuana policy in place. Have new hires sign onto it before day one. Ensure they disclose to you any need they have to be using medical marijuana. Make sure the policy is written up with legal counsel’s input.
There’s another, often overlooked, way that an increase in medical marijuana use among your employees could affect you – the cost of coverage. Patients can get permission to access up to five grams a day and that’ll cost about $13,687.50 each year. What if you have a dozen employees using medical marijuana? Who’s paying for that? Your employee benefits plan? Expect premiums to go up. The costs can add up in a hurry. And by the way, that’s a lot of dope.
I’m not advocating for or against the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, but there are a lot of implications for employers – especially in the trucking industry. If you haven’t thought this through, I encourage you to do so.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies