Wells Fargo analyst blames increasing trucker costs and staff shortages on cannabis’ federally illegal status


According to a lead analyst from Wells Fargo Securities, federal cannabis prohibition is making it difficult for the transportation industry to reach its full potential. 

Specifically, the head of equity strategy, Chris Harvey, says that prohibition is contributing to rising expenses for industry-focused businesses.

Additionally, Harvey claims that the government’s restrictive laws are having a detrimental impact on staffing, with the transportation sector drowning in an obvious worker shortage. 

Federal cannabis criminalization aside, Harvey who addressed the subject during a recent conference call notes that drug testing mandates are hurting the industry’s growth. 

“If you’ve listened to one conference call or a thousand conference calls, what have you heard? Logistics, transportation costs, trucker costs all going higher and that’s going to continue to occur,” he told reporters.

Harvey attributes the rising costs to the U.S. federal government’s restrictive stance on the cannabis plant, which has been outlawed since the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was passed.

“We’ve legalized cannabis in some states but, obviously, not all but some. And what you have as a trucker is you have a federal mandate for drug testing,” he explained.

Cannabis and the transportation industry: Drug testing is required under U.S. federal transportation law 

As per the federal and state transportation statutes laid out under U.S. transportation law jobs like trucking which are considered to be “safety sensitive” necessitate drug testing policies. 

The government’s position on the issue of transport suggests that, due to cannabis’ federally illegal status, transporting the plant across state lines may result in federal criminal prosecution. 

Although legalization advocates would nod their heads in agreement that nobody should operate a 16-wheel truck while under the influence of cannabis, the issue extends far beyond immediate consumption. 

How? Because THC metabolites can be detected in a person’s body for weeks post-consumption.

“We’re excluding a significant portion of that trucker industry [due to the drug testing mandates,]” Harvey said. “And so, it’s going to make a very tight market even worse.”

Cannabis and the transportation industry: Could federal cannabis legalization help to protect workers?

Discussions regarding workforce shortages and cannabis policy span further than Harvey’s recent conversation. For example, the subject of legalizing cannabis to protect workers has also arisen in the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and Amazon, the latter of which recently amended its policies to banish pre-employment drug testing for cannabis.

While many anti-cannabis lobbyists believe that the green plant’s federally illegal status is helping to reduce the rate of violence and addiction, proponents of legalization beg to differ. In fact, many cannabis supporters remain firm on the belief that legalization could be a significant economic driver.

What’s more, failure to act could further starve employment opportunities, as qualified people struggle to land jobs in their chosen fields. That’s without even mentioning the fact that many currently employed workers risk losing their jobs for consuming cannabis products that may otherwise be legal in the states in which they were purchased.