No matter your views on legalized marijuana, this issue is becoming a real possibility for the U.S. With Canada’s recent legalization, the uncertainties and arguments associated with this issue have come into sharper focus. As you create or prepare the policies needed to address this development, it’s important to understand what this means for your fleet and what you need to do to prepare your drivers.
How does marijuana affect driving
Much like alcohol, marijuana can have drastic effects on the awareness and actions of any person. Also like alcohol, these effects vary based on the user and the amount used. According to the CDC, the most common effects of using marijuana include:
- Slowed reaction times and impaired decision making
- Decreased coordination and perception
- Loss of memory and poor problem-solving
With these effects, drivers under the influence of marijuana often pose just a much a threat to road safety as drunk drivers.
What does legalization mean
Since marijuana affects drivers like alcohol does, Canada has retained — and even strengthened — laws that prevent users from driving under the influence. These laws prevent any person from driving a motor vehicle while high, laws that continue to be in effect in America. So, while Canada’s legalization has made and provoked changes within the U.S., it’s important to remember that your fleet drivers are still totally prevented from driving while under the influence of marijuana – no matter where they drive.
What does this mean for me
Cannabis legalization in America is still a ways off, but it doesn’t hurt to start preparing now. Whether one or all of your drivers smoke, it’s always better to set a precedent now to prevent problems in the future. As you create your policies, here are some important things to keep in mind:
1. Education is key
Like any other big change, you’ll get the best results from keeping your drivers knowledgeable and prepared. Make your policies clear. Remind your drivers frequently of your stance and the potential consequences. As inconsequential as driving under the influence may seem to some, it has the potential to destroy both lives and your company’s reputation. Our laws have a zero-tolerance policy and it’s best that your company does, too.
2. Stay aware
Marijuana isn’t legal in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean your drivers aren’t using it. To protect your drivers and company from driving accidents while under the influence, stay aware of what is happening on company property. Instate a no smoking policy within your vehicles to avoid both damage and any potential for drugged driving. Most important, build a good rapport with your drivers. tWith a better working environment, you’ll hopefully see an increased willingness to follow the rules you set.
3. Explore your options
While drug testing applicants before hiring is legal, performing random drug tests on your employees is not. If, however, you have reason to believe your drivers are operating your vehicles under the influence of marijuana, you may have legal cause to order a drug test. State and local governments often have separate laws on drug testing, so research your options before making any decisions.