Major Trucking Industry Group Urges Feds To Lift Marijuana Research Roadblocks


The American Trucking Associations (ATA) endorsed a set of marijuana-related policies on Tuesday, and that includes lifting federal restrictions on cannabis research.

A working group that studied the impact of state-level legalization efforts developed a series of recommendations aimed at improving safety on the roads and preventing impaired driving by truckers.

Among the stances that ATA’s Board of Directors approved is a position in support of increasing marijuana research, specifically when it comes to studies on impairment and drug testing technology. To encourage such investigations, the group said that it supports “lifting federal restrictions on marijuana research,” according to a copy of the recommendations that was shared with Marijuana Moment.

It’s not clear what ATA is specifically advocating for in order to lift those research barriers, but there’s general agreement that rescheduling cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act represents one essential tool to accomplish that. A representative for the organization did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on its position regarding cannabis scheduling.

“Research on marijuana should include the effects of mixed-use (alcohol and marijuana) and polydrug use (marijuana and other controlled substances)” as well as “the use of oral fluid testing in developing impairment standards,” ATA, which represents more than 37,000 members, said.

Other recommendations from the organization’s Controlled Substances and Driver Health and Wellness Working Group include developing a policy that ensures employers can drug test drivers for marijuana, pursuing regulatory and legislation changes to permit drug testing “alternative specimens” such as hair and saliva. As it stands, the U.S. Department of Transportation only permits testing of urine samples.

Dr. Todd Simo @HireRight: Deterrence-based programs, i.e. hair and random testing, are a key tool for carriers as more states legalize marijuana. #ATAmce19

ATA also supports the creation of a “marijuana victim’s compensation fund” that would be funded by cannabis dispensaries, growers and manufacturers. The policy doesn’t lay out who would be eligible for compensation or exactly how the funding would be sourced from industry participants.

Another recommendation that could be viewed as particularly controversial endorses the adoption of state and federal legislation that would “require that each time marijuana is dispensed to an individual, it is reported to the state” prescription drug monitoring program.

“ATA has long been an advocate for reducing impaired driving—in all its forms—so it only makes sense that we would call upon state and federal governments to consider the impact of increased use of marijuana on our roadways,” ATA President Chris Spear said in a press release. “As an industry that operates in all 50 states and across national borders, we need all levels of government to help us keep our roads and drivers drug-free.”

“This policy allows us to, while recognizing that the modern world is changing, advocate for strong, safety-oriented policies backed by sound science and data,” he added.

The list goes on to recommend support for impaired driving laws that allow law enforcement to prosecute drivers who are under the influence, increasing federal funding for drug recognition experts and facilities to test samples for evidence of drug use, creating a frequently asked questions guide to help the industry keep up with federal and state regulations, promoting the working group’s recommendations through congressional lobbying and public affairs channels and creating education programs in partnership with allies.

Working group members “are confident implementation of the Working Group’s recommendations is the first step to help mitigate the impacts of marijuana legalization on highway safety or the trucking industry’s ability to recruit and hire qualified individuals,” the document states.

1 in 4 Americans have access to legal recreational marijuana. Trucking wants to take this new world of weed head-on https://t.co/woRpP9sqMm #ATAmce19

Spear also briefly discussed cannabis policy during a keynote speech at the event, offering a window into the organization’s rationale behind establishing the working group.

“Eleven states, D.C. and Canada have now legalized the recreational use of marijuana, all while our federal government turns a blind eye,” he said. “And guess who gets caught in the middle?”

“You can just see the trial lawyers, sitting on the edge of their high, wing-back leather chairs, drooling over the thought of more legal ambiguity. We can’t just sit back and hand them yet another opportunity to litigate our industry,” he said. “To change direction, we need a member-led policy platform that helps lawmakers, regulators and courts make informed decisions about the impact substance abuse is having on safety and interstate commerce.”

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment’s Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

An application for a patent on the cannabis container concept was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday. In order to comply with state regulations while at the same time ensuring consumers know what they’re buying, the inventors are pitching a secure package that uses non-THC volatiles to produce the scent of the product when a sticker on the exterior is scratched.

The applicants recognized in their filing that there’s an existing patent application for scratch-and-sniff stickers that are meant to identify the flavor of coffee, but argued their idea is distinct because the other application produced the scent of coffee after it’s brewed whereas this sticker would smell like cannabis in its unsmoked form.

“A major hurdle to the purchase of Cannabis is the secure packaging laws of various states,” the application states. “Packaging can often prevent a purchaser from observing certain characteristics of the Cannabis, such as its scent.”

In a summary of the proposal, the applicants said the “general purpose of the present invention is to provide a Cannabis package and method of selection that includes all the advantages of the secure packaging, and overcomes the drawbacks inherent therein.”

Another advantage of the proposed packaging is to help patients identify medicinal properties of different marijuana varieties, or assess quality, without having to open the product, the applicants, Random Vaughn and Jonathan Tanzer of Olympia, Washington, argued. They said that scent is is important in “selecting Cannabis for medical reasons such as seizures, headaches, or insomnia.”

The application lists two iterations of the concept. The main one would involve a sticker that would be infused with the scent of cannabis. Terpenes, which are non-intoxicating compounds in the plant that give cannabis its smell and taste, would be used to produce the scent.

For the other, the scent wouldn’t correspond with the actual small of the marijuana itself, but instead various flavor notes, which are sometimes used in cannabis marketing to describe the product’s qualities similar to what’s often done with wine. The applicants listed a diverse list of potential smells, including freshly cut grass, bread, vanilla, bacon, fish and chips, a Christmas tree, cinnamon, after shave, shampoo, the seaside, furniture polish and a Sunday roast.

Fans of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” are being taken on a scavenger hunt as part of an advertising campaign for the show’s upcoming Netflix feature, “El Camino.” And the first clue sent people to a MedMen marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles on Sunday.

To promote the movie, which will be released on Friday, the show’s official Twitter account started sharing geographic coordinates where people would find clues in the “Hunt for Jesse Pinkman” contest, named after the film’s main character.

“Smoke it if you got it, but see Badger if you don’t,” the first clue read, referencing Pinkman’s colleague Badger Mayhew. “21+. 34° 4’ 29.6” N 118° 23’ .9” W.”

Those coordinates lead to a MedMen cannabis shop in West Los Angeles, where Matt Jones, the actor who plays Badger, hung out and signed posters on Sunday. People who followed the clue to the store received free tickets to the film’s premiere.

Badger is an apt fit for the scavenger hunt stop, as his character on the show was cast as a marijuana enthusiast who assisted Pinkman as a meth distributer throughout its five seasons.

Get your Premiere tickets. Now! #huntforjessepinkman EDIT: There is a scavenger hunt going on right now where you can get tickets to the premiere. Bitches should have followed me.

Why MedMen? It’s not clear if there’s any further relationship between the dispensary chain and the hit series beyond the one stop in the guerrilla marketing campaign, but if one is going to choose a cannabis shop to promote a movie, it’s hard to find an example with as much brand recognition as MedMen, which has locations in cities around the country.

Other clues took fans to non-cannabis spots in Los Angeles, including a Four Seasons Hotel. Subsequent clues will lead ticket-seeking fans to locations New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Albuquerque, though it’s not clear if any will be marijuana-related.

MedMen was also featured in an episode of South Park last month—but its portrayal wasn’t especially flattering. The show depicted the company as profit-hungry, working to enact a ban on home cultivation of cannabis in order to protect their bottom line.

MedMen was part of a medical marijuana association that sent a policy statement to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) last year, urging him not to include a home grow option in legalization legislation, which he ultimately didn’t. The company denied opposing home cultivation in a statement to Marijuana Moment at the time.

South Park also seemed to criticize MedMen in an earlier clip, though it didn’t name the company explicitly, unlike in the newer episode. Riffing off an actual ad that MedMen produced in partnership with filmmaker Spike Jonze, the show questioned the brand’s integrity and suggested that they’re more concerned with making money than other issues related to marijuana prohibition.

Payments processor Square announced on Thursday that it is making its payment processing services available to more businesses that sell CBD products.

The lack of financial services has been a key problem for companies in the cannabis industry, including those that only deal with cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating component of the plant.

“We believe everyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy,” Square said in a blog post. “Today, we’re thrilled to launch our CBD early-access program, which allows businesses in the U.S. to sell CBD products on Square quickly, easily, and securely.”

In May, Square launched a smaller invite-only pilot program to offer services to a small number of CBD sellers, which apparently went well and led to the new broader roll out.

Although hemp and its derivatives including CBD were federally legalized under the Farm Bill signed into law by President Trump late last year, many financial institutions have remained wary of working with companies selling the cannabis compound.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill last week that would protect banks that work with state-legal marijuana businesses from being punished by federal regulators.

Its path in the Senate is uncertain, but there are some indications it stands a good chance of getting to Trump’s desk.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R), who had long been skeptical of such a reform, now says he wants to schedule a vote in his panel by the end of the year.

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who championed hemp’s legalization but is not a fan of its “illicit cousin” marijuana, is likely happy about last-minute amendments the bill’s House sponsor made to clarify that banks can service hemp businesses.

McConnell has pressed federal financial regulators to issue guidance clarifying the matter, with one, the Credit Union National Administration, doing so in August.

McConnell has also pressed the Food and Drug Administration to more swiftly provide a legal pathway for CBD-infused foods and nutritional supplements.

Square said that products sold through its platform must be hemp-derived and contain less than 0.3% THC, in accordance with the Farm Bill’s definition of hemp.

The company said that it saw the federal legislation as “an opportunity to make our tools available to sellers in the CBD space, so they can start, run, and grow their business on Square.”

Meanwhile, in New York City, health officials said this week that they will begin issuing violations and fines to businesses that sell CBD-infused foods or beverages.

As of Oct. 1, we will issue violations (subject to fines) for offering food and drink containing #CBD. The NYC Health Code prohibits offering food or drink with added CBD, including in packaged food products: https://t.co/Sxcjo4i5nW pic.twitter.com/ZX89TUeXXo