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Marijuana testing took thousands of truckers off the road in 2023, endangering supply chain, pro-pot group says

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Pro-pot advocacy group NORML says that current federal marijuana testing practices are forcing tens of thousands of truck drivers to leave the industry for good.

On April 11, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) released a statement calling for reform of drug screening practices for truck drivers in order to stop an “exodus” from the commercial trucking industry.

Nearly 38K Truck Drivers Failed Marijuana Tests Last Year: NORML

NORML points to FMCSA data that shows that 37,657 CDL holders failed drug screens for marijuana in 2023, and that a large number of those CDL holders did not return to trucking after that failure.

Since 2020, more than 139,000 CDL holders have failed mandatory drug tests for marijuana, according to the group.

FMCSA Drug And Alcohol Clearinghouse December 2023 Report

Additionally, nearly 13,000 truck drivers refused to submit to drug screening in 2023, marking the highest annual refusal level reported by federal officials.

It should be noted that overall positive drug tests reported to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse were down from 68,639 in 2022 to 61,443 in 2023, but this is in part due to the increase in test refusals.

Government’s “Outdated” Pot Policies Hurting Supply Chain, Group Says

NORML argues that current marijuana testing practices are causing an “exodus” of drivers from the trucking industry. A large number of drivers leaving the industry could in turn endanger the supply chain, the group warns.

“Tens of thousands of commercial truckers are leaving their jobs, resulting in higher prices and barren shelves. What’s motivating this mass exodus? Look no further than the federal government’s outdated policies toward marijuana,” said Paul Amentano, NORML Deputy Director in a 2023 Op-Ed.

The group appears to suggest that federal drug screens should move away from urine testing, which can detect THC for weeks or months, in favor of oral fluid testing, which only detects THC within one or two days of use, or performance-based testing.

NORML suggests that urine testing is an “antiquated” practice that does not indicate “abuse or addiction; recency, frequency, or amount of use; or impairment.”

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