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Truck Driver Shortage and Supply Chain Disruptions Affected by Marijuana Positives

12/14/2022 14:10

What is the Current Truck Driver Shortage?

The truck driver shortage represents an ongoing challenge in the transportation industry. With over 3 million professional drivers in the United States, this critical labor force is essential for transporting goods across the country. Unfortunately, current supply chain disruptions are being fueled by an unexpected source - marijuana positives. 

Recent statistics show that over half of all drug tests administered to new hires come back positive for marijuana use. This poses a major challenge to carriers who must comply with federal regulations and deliver their goods in a timely manner. Furthermore, many states have legalized marijuana use which has led to a higher number of positives among qualified drivers. Companies must now weigh the risks associated with hiring candidates who have recently consumed cannabis against meeting tight delivery deadlines and ensuring customer satisfaction. 

Marijuana Legalization: How it Affects Supply Chains

Marijuana legalization has been a controversial topic for years, but as more states legalize its use, the implications for supply chains and those within them become increasingly clearer. A recent article in a credible trucking magazine links these changes to the truck driver shortage. With marijuana becoming legal in many states, an untapped labor pool of potential drivers is now available, potentially helping to alleviate this issue. But there are other effects that come with this change—not all of which are immediately apparent. 

The article notes that while many states have decriminalized marijuana use, federal regulations still forbid it from being used in transportation applications like trucking. This means that even if someone holds a medical or recreational license to consume cannabis products, they can’t legally drive a truck across state lines or transport goods across the country without risking serious penalties and fines. 

Positive Impacts of Marijuana Use 

Marijuana use is growing in prevalence, and it has had many positive impacts on our society. With the ever-increasing truck driver shortage, the cannabis industry has provided a potential solution to the supply chain disruptions that have resulted. Not only has it allowed individuals to find employment in a difficult job market, but marijuana use also provides tax revenue and financial benefits for those states who have legalized its sale.

Additionally, research shows that medical marijuana can provide relief from chronic pain suffered by many people with diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis. This allows them access to an alternative form of treatment which helps reduce their reliance on pharmaceuticals. Studies have also found that marijuana use can help with anxiety and depression symptoms, allowing users to focus better on day-to-day tasks as well as enhancing their overall quality of life.

Transportation Companies Exploring Benefits

Transportation companies are exploring all-new ways to benefit from the ever-changing landscape of marijuana legalization. For one, the truck driver shortage and supply chain disruptions in the transportation industry in the coming years could be improved by allowing individuals who consume marijuana recreationally to become employed as truck drivers.
It has been widely reported that there is a major shortage of truck drivers and this gap is causing significant problems for many industries. 

The rising demand for goods being transported can only be met if more qualified drivers enter the workforce, yet many potential candidates are disqualified due to their non-compliance with federal regulations and drug policies which prohibit any consumption of controlled substances. As marijuana laws differ from state to state, it's essential that transportation companies research various options available in order to fill these necessary roles. 

Challenges to Recruiting Drivers 

The trucking industry is facing a major challenge in recruiting and retaining drivers. The United States Department of Transportation estimates that the industry needs to add about 100,000 more drivers annually in order to keep up with the demand for freight transportation. This challenge has been further compounded by the growing number of positive drug tests for marijuana use from potential truck drivers.

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level and truck drivers are held to a higher standard due to their CDL licenses. As such, any potential driver with a positive drug test must be eliminated from consideration, which decreases the already limited pool of qualified candidates even further. Additionally, states that have legalized marijuana still require employers to conduct drug testing and adhere to federal regulations. 

Increased Costs for Companies 

The truck driver shortage and resulting supply chain disruptions have been a major challenge for many companies in recent years, and now there are additional costs to consider. With marijuana now legal in several states across the US, employers must grapple with an array of complicated new regulations. Companies must account for both the cost of compliance as well as potential losses due to increased drug testing failure rates. 

The risks associated with marijuana use vary depending on a business’s industry, region, and size. Companies that operate in multiple states must be especially aware of state-to-state differences when it comes to laws governing marijuana use. Businesses also have to worry about the cost of recruiting or replacing employees who fail tests due to THC levels found in their system from recreational or medical cannabis usage. Drug testing can be expensive, so employers should factor these costs into their budgeting plans accordingly. 

Conclusion: Opportunities and Solutions 

The truck driver shortage has been a long-standing issue that the supply chain industry has yet to find an adequate solution. With the recent influx of marijuana legalization, this situation is only becoming more precarious. While cannabis presents many positives for society, it is also having some unanticipated effects on the labor market and potential solutions for reducing the truck driver shortage. 

It is clear that there are still many opportunities to be explored in order to alleviate the stresses of this growing problem. Solutions include providing incentives for those looking to enter into the profession such as tuition reimbursement programs and lower licensing fees, as well as increasing public awareness about job availability in this field. Additionally, marijuana decriminalization could be considered in certain areas where evidence suggests it would not have an immediate or drastic effect on road safety or local labor markets. 

If you need support with any DOT and FMCSA compliance, we at Labworks USA are able to support you. Reach out to us today.

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