Employees Testing Positive for Weed Hit Its Highest Rate in 20 Years
It's the highest rate recorded in 20 years. Interestingly, the data shows the rate rising among safety-sensitive workers, too.
Published on April 11, 2022

A recent report shows that the number of US workers in 2021 who tested positive for cannabis use reached its highest rate in two decades.

The report, published by the clinical laboratory Quest Diagnositcs, showed that the rate of positive drug tests among workers jumped 30% since 2001. Out of 11 million hair, urine, and blood samples, 4.6% of those came back positive for THC, the component of cannabis that gets people high. The record low occurred between 2010 to 2012 at 3.5%.

The data show some trends of concern, however. The rate of weed showing up in employee drug tests has also gone up for workers in safety-sensitive positions, as well. These jobs include positions that run nuclear power plants, truck drivers, and pilots.

Additionally, the positive rates of other drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine have also gone up, too. 

"Employers are wrestling with significant recruitment and retention challenges as well as with maintaining safe and engaging work environments that foster positive mental and physical wellbeing," said Keith Ward, the general manager and vice president of Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, in a press release. "Our Drug Testing Index data raises important questions about what it means to be an employer committed to employee health and safety. Eager to attract talent, employers may be tempted to lower their standards. In the process, they raise the specter of more drug-related impairment and worksite accidents that put other employees and the general public in harms' way."

Many employers across the US have removed cannabis from drug testing results for pre-employment and employment screenings. Even the US government has chilled out lately. Last year, the FBI said potential recruits would only be disqualified if the agency could prove said recruits smoked weed more than 24 times over their lifetime. The CIA will not disqualify prospective recruits for any prior pot use.

MERRY JANE is based in Los Angeles, California and is dedicated to elevating the discussion around cannabis culture.
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