With a national shortage of truck drivers plaguing the US, a Wells Fargo executive said a major cause is marijuana testing.
According to Chris Harvey, Wells Fargo’s head of equity strategy, pot screenings have led many truck drivers to leave the industry. Harvey said the issue will “continue to push that price even higher,” worsening a surge in transportation costs. The surge in costs has left consumers facing price hikes and shortages.
“It’s really about drug testing,” Harvey said, speaking Wednesday at an industry conference, reports Business Insider. “We’ve legalized marijuana in some states but, obviously, not all … What we’ve done is we’re excluding a significant portion of that trucker industry.”
Cannabis Screening For Employment Becomes Controversial
The role of Cannabis testing in employee screening has become controversial in recent years. That’s even more true as the labor shortage continues to place more power in the hands of workers.
At the same time, Cannabis use has become more socially accepted. Last year, a Gallup poll found 49% of US adults have used the herb at least once. So far, 37 states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, while 18 have legalized weed for adult use.
But instead of adapting to changing times, the trucking industry’s weed policies have become even more strict and regressive. Companies randomly test truck drivers on a quarterly basis, as well as in the event of any accident or traffic ticket. And that’s according to the authorities on the subject, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Companies immediately remove truck drivers who test positive from driving commercial motor vehicles, according to the FMCSA.
The Vise Tightens; The Shortage Worsens
In 2020, the trucking industry implemented a law that tightened the vise even farther. The law creates a federal database to list all truck drivers who failed a drug test so that other trucking companies would avoid hiring them.
Previously, drivers could theoretically move to a new company that wouldn’t know about the positive pot test.
The law already impacted nearly 110,000 truck drivers. About 56% of those drivers were reported for Cannabis use, according to government data from December 2021.
Dude, We Just Found 81,000 Truck Drivers
All those truck drivers who got fired for marijuana use in the past two years could surely help address the shortage of about 80,000 truckers that the American Trucking Association has reported.
Since the database was launched, more than 6.4 million queries had been conducted on the site as of late December. That makes sense, because all employers must consult the database before they approve truck drivers.
As of December, more than 81,000 drivers were “prohibited” from work. More than three out of every four hadn’t even begun the lengthy reassessment process required before they can return to duty.