Marijuana use among American workers reached a 14-year high in 2018. According to Quest Diagnostics, the company that runs the tests, 4.4 percent of American employees tested with drugs showed positive results.
It marks the country's highest rate of marijuana use since 2004 and follows an analysis of 10 million urine, saliva and hair drug samples.
In 2017, 4.2 percent of the workforce tested positive for marijuana. In 2004, 4.5 percent of the workforce tested positive for marijuana.
The lowest percentage recorded in the country was between 2010 and 2013, when only 2.5 percent of the workforce tested positive for weed consumption.
The increase in marijuana use is due to the expansion of legalization.
According to a new study, more and more Americans are testing marijuana positively as pot legislation is expanding across the country
While overall marijuana use has decreased since the 1970s, it is steadily increasing
Urine samples showed that workers who tested positive for marijuana reached 2.8 percent in 2012
The results were released on Thursday by Quest, the largest drug testing laboratory in the country, and presented at the annual conference of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) in Chicago.
In 2018, 4.4 percent of the samples analyzed contained traces of both legal and illegally controlled substances, including pots, prescription pain relievers, and other medications.
Since the increase in 2004, the number of drug tests showing signs of cocaine, heroin, prescription sleep pills and certain opiates like morphine has dropped dramatically, but marijuana has been increasing steadily.
Marijuana consumption even increased when testing for security-related jobs, including aircraft pilots, nuclear power plant operators, and train drivers.
The quest data showed that 0.88 percent of security-sensitive workers tested positive for marijuana last year, an increase of 0.84 percent in 2017.
The use of opiates increased in the safety-relevant population group, which shows an increase in the use of OxyContin and painkillers in the wake of the national opioid crisis.
This is likely because in 2018, the government expanded the list of prescription pain relievers that trucker and pipeline workers had to test to fight the crisis, the Wall Street Journal said.
"Marijuana use is increasing in society, so it is not surprising that we are starting to see this filter in the workplace," said Barry Sample, Quest's senior director of science and technology.
As more and more states legalize marijuana, some employers have stopped screening for its use in applicants, he added.
While the urine and saliva tests indicate the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in the pot, it doesn't determine how often or how recently the drug is used. THC can remain in the system for months.
However, federal employees have been prohibited from using drugs on or off duty since 1986 after President Ronald Reagan approved drug testing for government employees.
This map of the United States' overall positivity rate shows the concentration at which workers tested positive for marijuana use, shown in dark green, compared to white, which did not
The 1988 Drug-Free Workplace Act extended the zero tolerance drug policy to other areas of work, including aviation, truck drivers and energy pipeline operators.
However, in recent years, widespread medical marijuana or recreational marijuana laws have been passed in over 30 states.
Currently 10 states and Washington D.C. leisure use.
However, workers in security-related professions are still prohibited from using drugs.
According to Dr. Sample's increase in 2018 is worrying as many of the tests were only performed after an accident at work.
The data shows that 4.7 percent of samples were sent to Quest for safety-related workers in 2018 after an accident and positive for potentially illegal drugs – a jump of 3.1 percent in the previous year.
"The increase in positive drug testing after accidents is very worrying," said Sample.
As a result, companies are looking for new ways to quickly test their employees in the workplace to see if their skills are compromised at all.
An Oakland startup called Hound Labs is marketing a new breathalyzer that can detect pot or THC in two to three hours.
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