Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
Marijuana workforce drug test positivity continued double-digit increases to keep the overall workforce drug test positivity rates at historically high levels, according to the 2021 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ Analysis, the first large-scale national analysis of workforce drug testing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Based on more than 9 million drug tests in 2020, the analysis from Quest Diagnostics shows stark differences in positivity between states that permit recreational marijuana use with either medical use and no legal marijuana states. Marijuana positivity rate of post-accident test results grew faster than the rate for pre-employment testing.
The analysis found that marijuana positivity surged 118.2 percent in states with legal recreational use statutes from 2021 to 2020. In states with only medical marijuana statutes, marijuana positivity increased 68.4 percent. In states with no medical or recreational marijuana statutes, marijuana positives increased 57.9 percent.
The marijuana positivity rate in the general U.S. workforce was 3.6 percent in 2020, a 16 percent increase from 3.1 percent in 2019 and a 44 percent increase from 2.5 percent in 2016. The positivity rate in the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce was 0.79 percent in 2020, a 10.2 percent decrease from 0.88 percent in 2019.
The drug positivity rate in the combined U.S. workforce was 4.4 percent in 2020, down slightly from a sixteen-year high of 4.5 percent in 2019, which was nearly 29 percent higher than the 30-year low recorded between 2010 and 2012. Positivity rates for most drug categories other than marijuana declined or remained flat.
The drug test analysis comes at a time when marijuana use laws in the U.S. are evolving. In 2021, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania prohibited pre-employment drug testing for marijuana, New York State legalized recreational use of marijuana away from the workplace, and New Jersey enacted a recreational marijuana use law.
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider that was ranked the #1 screening firm by HRO Today in 2020 – provides legally compliant pre- and post-employment drug testing with access to more than 10,000 collection facilities. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.
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