Positive Drug Tests Among U.S. Workers Hit Two-Decade High

Sadye Matula

The share of doing work Us residents testing constructive for medications strike a two-ten years superior very last year, pushed by an boost in constructive cannabis assessments, as businesses could possibly have loosened screening policies amid nationwide labor shortages. Of the far more than 6 million common workforce urine assessments […]

The share of doing work Us residents testing constructive for medications strike a two-ten years superior very last year, pushed by an boost in constructive cannabis assessments, as businesses could possibly have loosened screening policies amid nationwide labor shortages.

Of the far more than 6 million common workforce urine assessments that

Quest Diagnostics Inc.,

a person of the country’s largest drug-screening laboratories, screened for marijuana last calendar year, 3.9% came back constructive, an boost of a lot more than 8% from 2020, according to


once-a-year drug-tests index.

That figure is up 50% since 2017. Considering the fact that then, the number of states that legalized cannabis for leisure use grew to 18 from eight, plus the District of Columbia.

Irrespective of the raise in positivity very last yr, less firms tested their workforce for THC, the material in marijuana mainly responsible for its effects, than in latest decades, explained Barry Sample, Quest’s senior science guide.

The shifting authorized backdrop and altering cultural attitudes have prompted some companies to end testing for cannabis when businesses in some states are barred from factoring the take a look at benefits into choosing choices, according to Dr. Sample. And those people developments accelerated previous yr amid the recent lack of personnel, particularly in states exactly where recreational cannabis is authorized, Dr. Sample additional.

“We’ve been viewing year-more than-yr declines in individuals leisure-use states, but by considerably the biggest fall we have at any time found was in 2021,” he stated about the selection of drug exams that screened for THC.

Hashish corporations in the U.S. deficiency access to banking and other financial products and services mainly because the drug is federally unlawful. That could improve via new legislation or many thanks to broader legalization efforts backed by the Democratically-managed Senate. Photograph Illustration: Laura Kammermann

The percentage of specimens examined for THC declined 6.7% nationwide in 2021 from 2020, while that determine fell by 10.3% in states wherever leisure marijuana is lawful, in accordance to Quest’s details.

“We surely listened to from some of our employer consumers that they have been getting problems finding certified workers to move the drug check,” Dr. Sample mentioned of pre-work exams for THC, in particular in states where use of the drug is lawful.

All round, the proportion of U.S. personnel who analyzed beneficial for the different medications Quest screened for in 2021 rose to 4.6%, the greatest level given that 2001, according to Quest, which analyzed just about nine million over-all urine exams last yr on behalf of companies.

That proportion is extra than 31% bigger than the small of 3.5% a decade ago, in the early times of a resurgent heroin epidemic in the U.S.

In Michigan, where by leisure cannabis was legalized in 2018, numerous companies did not loosen their demands on pre-employment drug checks for a handful of many years, in accordance to Tammy Turner, co-proprietor of Kapstone Work Solutions, a Detroit-dependent staffing agency.

But throughout the pandemic and the linked labor shortages, Kapstone, which performs generally with producers that offer the Huge A few motor vehicle makers, encouraged regional businesses to loosen their THC-screening insurance policies for numerous positions.

“So quite a few of our clients were adamant, in pre-Covid, that they would not settle for any individual that could not go a drug test, even if it was THC,” Ms. Turner reported. “We experienced to inspire some of them to reassess their coverage, and they did, and we were being equipped to fill a lot of of those people jobs as a consequence.”

Consumers obtain cannabis materials at a keep in New York, which legalized leisure use of the drug in 2021.


kena betancur/Agence France-Presse/Getty Illustrations or photos

For selected positions, such as those people that entail heavy machinery, Kapstone nevertheless screens candidates for THC and other medicines, as expected by the federal govt, mentioned Kerry Buffington, co-owner of the corporation.

Ms. Buffington and Ms. Turner explained they don’t see any of the organizations they work with reverting to their pre-pandemic choosing requirements even if the labor lack eases.

Cannabis use has develop into so casual between some younger staff that Ms. Turner stated some opportunity workers have proven up to her workplace smelling like the drug, and a single employee who was positioned by Kapstone got fired soon after making use of a vape pen in the workplace. The organization has experienced to counsel some workers on what is suitable at function, Ms. Turner additional.

In the hospitality market, quite a few companies experienced currently stopped screening probable staff for medications, such as marijuana, just before the pandemic, in accordance to 1 agent for a hotel management business with functions across the nation, like in Georgia, Minnesota and Colorado.

The agent explained their organization alongside with a number of of their sector peers stopped conducting pre-employment drug tests in the earlier 5 a long time for the reason that of the affiliated charges and evolving lawful landscape.

Chris Layden, senior vice president at staffing firm


said the elimination of marijuana screening is a person of the most frequent methods businesses are looking for to extend their pool of suitable staff. ManpowerGroup estimated that drug testing eradicates about 5% of candidates.

ManpowerGroup is seeing providers across just about all industries, except for economic services and federally regulated companies, eradicate marijuana tests necessities, Mr. Layden stated.

Michelle Bearden, main chance and functioning officer for Houston-centered staffing and recruiting organization Backlink Staffing Products and services Inc., mentioned she has still to see a solid purpose why Connection Staffing need to shift to loosen pre-employment cannabis screenings right before the federal federal government does. She acknowledged the position market has been tight through the pandemic, but reported she doesn’t believe nixing THC screenings is a good remedy.

“[Marijuana] is still on the federal listing of prohibited substances, and that is what our procedures are driven by at this stage,” she mentioned. “If I see that there is an overwhelming reason or result in for us to modify ahead of that, we will.”

In Texas, Connection Staffing, which largely hires for the producing and distribution sectors in the Dallas and Houston areas, has manufactured some concessions to fill open roles amid the labor shortage, which include by easing history-look at requirements, Ms. Bearden said.

And even though it can nonetheless be tricky to fill open up roles, Connection Staffing and the businesses it will work with continue to see marijuana use as a deal breaker.

“We hire folks in protection-sensitive jobs, and I feel your companies that run workplaces with high safety concerns—it may well however be component of what they see as a hazard in the workplace, for people today to be under the affect of something,” Ms. Bearden claimed.

Write to Will Feuer at [email protected]

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