Before Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana by referendum, both advocates and critics of legal pot made a number of predictions. So far, both sides have been proven wrong on a number of counts. Despite the predictions made by both sides, crime rates have failed to either rise or drop by a significant margin.
However, marijuana usage has gone up in the two years since the law took effect, and already legal pot is creating major headaches for the trucking and transportation industry. And not just here in Colorado, the ripple effects of Colorado marijuana are already being felt across the United States and Canada.
Trucking Companies Struggle To Find Sober Drivers
U.S. freight companies already employ 3.5 million truckers and 9 million workers in total; that’s 3% of the country working in transportation jobs. Despite this, increased drug testing requirements and other factors have led to a major shortage of qualified truck drivers.
Because marijuana can stay in a person’s system for months, many Colorado trucking companies have seen alarmingly high failure rates. Even non-driver jobs are becoming harder to fill. According to TruckingInfo, one Colorado company warned loading dock workers they would be drug tested but still saw a 70% failure rate!
On a national level, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) actually lowered its random drug testing requirements on January 1 from 50% to 25% due to a very low failure rate of just 0.5%.
However, the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to adopt Colorado’s standards for marijuana drug testing sometime in 2016. Rather than relying solely on blood and urine tests, the DOT is considering roadside saliva tests. The DOT is also expected to rely on Colorado’s standard for marijuana impairment, 5 nanograms of THC per microlitre of blood.
Who Will Transport All That Weed?
Another unexpected consequence of marijuana legalization is the transportation and storage requirements of cannabis dispensaries themselves.
Many trucking companies have refused to help transport medical marijuana, let alone recreational marijuana. Not only that, but many dispensaries require extensive storage space. Between 2009 and 2014, marijuana enterprises rented one-third of all the industrial space in Denver, forcing some trucking companies out of the area altogether.
And to transport all that pot, new companies like CannaRabbit LLC have been created to fill the gap, taking on high-risk delivery jobs across Colorado.
While the effects of legal pot may not have been as disastrous as many people feared, proponents can no longer deny that pot is having some negative effects in the Rocky Mountain state after all.