A record-breaking number of Americans are testing positive for cannabis use during employment drug tests, according to the latest report from Quest Diagnostics, a major US clinical laboratory.
The data shows that nearly 2.7% of more than seven million drug tests conducted on behalf of employers in 2020 were positive for cannabis. That is up from 2.5% recorded in 2019, when the rate of detected workforce drug use reached a 16-year high.
Around 2.7% of the drug tests conducted by Quest on behalf of employers returned positive results for marijuana – up from 2.5% in 2019 and 2% in 2016.
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“Positivity rates in the combined US workforce increased in urine drug tests, climbing to the highest level since 2003 (4.5%) and more than 28% higher than the 30-year low of 3.5% recorded between 2010 and 2012,” the lab said in its report.
There have also been recorded increases in drug abuse and overdoses since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Quest’s data is unlikely to reflect these as most overdose victims were not subject to work-related testing in 2020.
“Organizations will need to consider the impact of Covid-19 not only on workplace safety but also as a health concern for their employees for some time to come,” warned Dr. Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology with Quest Diagnostics.
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As more states have been legalizing weed for adult use and medicinal purposes, more employers opt to either skip cannabis drug tests or allow positive results for marijuana to slide rather than reject job applicants.
Jobs requiring broad safety measures, including trucking, mass transit, and railroads still require mandatory testing. However, for service industry workers, a positive test for cannabis rarely means that they will lose out on a job.
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