Workplace/Public Safety Key Consideration for Truckers as Feds Introduce Legislation to Legalize Marijuana

The Federal Liberal government introduced its long-awaited legislation today which lays out the parameters for ending the century-old prohibition on cannabis and regulates it for recreational use.

The bill checks off a major Liberal campaign promise. In introducing the legislation, the government said it is committed to developing a roadside testing protocol to combat impaired driving – the details of which have yet to be worked out but which could involve an administrative sanctioning system until the science catches up with the need for an impairment by marijuana cut/off level.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has been engaging with employers of safety-sensitive occupations in various industries to ensure that safeguards and regulations are in place before marijuana becomes legal so that workplace and public safety is not impaired and employer and employee responsibilities and rights are clearly defined.

“Employers in industries like trucking have a paramount responsibility for the safety of our employees and of the motoring public with whom we share the road,” says David Bradley, CEO of CTA. “We are asking for a per cut off limit for impairment like .08 for alcohol; a practical and lest evasive roadside test; and the regulatory framework for employers to conduct workplace testing of employees in safety-sensitive occupations, including random testing.”

There has been discussion of an interim proposed cut-off for roadside testing that would allow for only a trace amount in the bloodstream or basically zero tolerance.

“If that’s the case, it’s imperative there be an accompanying workplace testing regime aligned with the US alcohol and drug testing program that has existed for over 20 years in the transportation sector,” Bradley says.

Bradley said the legislation introduced today is “enabling” legislation, meaning it gives the government the authority to make regulations.

“This is where the real work will be,” he says. “All these things – such as roadside and workplace testing – should be in place before legalization takes place in a practical sense.”

Bradley said he believes the federal government is sensitive to the issues raised by CTA and other employers, “but there is still a lot to do.”

The legislation also proposes to set the national legal age of consumption at 18 years and the possession limit at 30 grams of dried cannabis per person. Consumers can grow up to four plants at home or buy from a licensed retailer. The legislation provides for ticketing for possession that exceeds the personal limit, or up to 14 years in jail for an illegal distribution or sale or for giving or selling marijuana to minors.

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