For Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D), solving the supply chain crisis is possible if the federal zero-tolerance policy for cannabis consumption is modified.
Last Monday, the democrat representative held a press conference over Zoom where he argued that federal cannabis policies contribute to the supply chain crisis in the U.S. and the recent string of violent crimes targeting dispensaries.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer argues that the current zero-tolerance policy by the Department of Transportation (DoT), led by Pete Buttigieg, has "disqualified tens of thousands of commercial drivers due to past cannabis use." Consequently, it “sweeps up drivers who were unimpaired, drivers who have not used cannabis for weeks or even months, and drivers who have used federally-legal CBD oils, disqualifying huge sections of the workforce” and contributing to supply chain issues currently facing the nation.
During the last two years, tens of thousands of commercial drivers have lost their jobs because the tests used do not measure the current state of impairment but rather reveal traces of THC consumed while the driver was off duty. Blumenauer insists that “the true impacts of this policy are likely greater, given that many people will self-select out of the profession knowing the drug testing requirements. While no one wants impaired drivers on the road, existing tests cannot detect impairment – only past use."
In Blumenauer's opinion, the American public is facing first-hand the consequences of such restrictive policies. “These disqualifications deny people the right to earn a living, reduce the workforce when drivers are desperately needed, and penalize people of color and patients who legally use medical cannabis...This crisis must be treated with urgency" stressed the Oregon representative.
The Oregon representative pointed out that “blanket disqualifications are unjust, unfair, and cause widespread economic and social damage. Penalizing safe drivers who comply with state cannabis laws harms the drivers and the supply chains they support.” To make matters worse the requirements demanded to return to duty after a positive test usually mean that most of these drivers never return to work. Over the past three years, 119,000 drivers were prohibited from driving and more than half have not even attempted to return.
The Department of Transportation Needs to Get on With the Times
For Rep. Earl Blumenauer the "punitive policies around marijuana and drug testing have had a racially disparate impact, as people of color are significantly more likely to be targeted by them even though there are comparable rates of cannabis use across races."
Blumenauer's plea to the DoT is to modernize its regulations regarding cannabis use, because “the federal government should be making it easier for already-qualified drivers to stay in the profession, not forcing them away. Outmoded and unfair federal drug policies are out of step with reality and directly contribute to the trucking shortage crisis."During the press conference the Oregon representative addressed Pete Buttigieg's DoT leadership, "as the United States continues to confront the supply chain crisis, your department should lead the effort to research more reliable cannabis test options and develop new tools that avoid sweeping up innocent drivers while also keeping our roads safe from those who are truly impaired."
Lastly, the representative concluded: “we need to put resources behind coming up with alternative methods of determining impairment. ...The federal government, until recently, has interfered with research. We’ve outsourced cannabis research to Canada or the U.K. or Israel. We need to get in the game and develop it. …Without federal interference, I’m quite confident we could develop technologies to measure impairment quickly – right now we haven’t been able to do it because the federal government has stood in the way, has interfered, and I think that’s criminal.”