Trucking associations call for mandatory drug testing when pot becomes legal

OTA and Canadian Trucking Alliance want drug testing when pot becomes legal.

Recreational marijuana will become legal on Oct. 17

Trucking associations call for 'zero tolerance' when it comes to marijuana use and driving. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) and Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) want to see mandatory drug and alcohol testing for truckers once marijuana becomes legal next week.

Stephen Laskowski is the president of both the OTA and the CTA. He says truckers are allowed a blood alcohol limit of .02 to allow for cough medicine use.

He would like to see some equivalent benchmark for marijuana.

"We hold our drivers and quite frankly they hold themselves to a higher standard of accountability when it relates to public safety and the operation of a motor vehicle on a public highway," said Laskowski.

Stephen Laskowski, president of the Ontario Trucking Association and the Canadian Trucking Alliance. (Ontario Trucking Association)

According to Health Canada, impairment can last up to 24 hours after last use. 

The federal government recently approved a saliva test for roadside testing but a study has shown it's not very reliable in freezing temperatures.

Testing supported

Truckers like Sean Abercrombie are in favour of testing.

"Why not. We got random testing as it is so what's the difference?" said the Sarnia driver.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation says provincial legislation does not specifically permit or prohibit the testing.

Bob Nichols tells CBC News in an email that whether a test violates a truckers rights or collective agreement is decided on by a case by case basis.

He added that it may be decided by courts, or arbitrators such as Ontario Human rights tribunals.