Drug Use in the Workplace Has Increased Dramatically

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There are now more American workers showing up to their job with drugs in their system than there have been in over a decade.

New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics, a company that provides human resource departments all over the nation with drug screening services, revealed earlier this week that there are now seeing more employees test positive for illegal substances, such as cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, than they have in the past 12 years.

Unfortunately, it seems that legal marijuana could be putting some of these workers in the unemployment line.

The report shows that Colorado and Washington, the country’s first two states to establish a system that allows adults to buy weed in a manner similar to beer, have experienced significant increases in workers testing positive for THC metabolites.

“We have been tracking the trends in marijuana positivity in states that have passed medical and recreational marijuana use statutes for several years now,” said Barry Sample, PhD, senior director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics. “2016 is the first year since Colorado and Washington approved recreational use that the rates of year-over-year change were sharply higher than the national average.”

It is important to point out that not every company cares to know whether their workers are stoned.

Most offices, restaurants and other members of the service industry do not require their employees to pass a urine screen in order to secure or maintain employment. At bare minimum, a lot of these companies are removing marijuana from the drug panel—or else they risk being unable to fill positions in a industry with a high turnover.

However, in the case of fork truck drivers and other laborers in the manufacturing sect, federal regulations dictate the occasional drug test.

It is this aspect of the grind that is apparently getting some workers into trouble. They are likely consuming marijuana at home, hoping like hell they will not be one of those picked to pee into a cup at some point during the month, only to find themselves being summoned to the bathroom by the human resources manager days after their last use.

Even though marijuana is legal in a growing number of states, there is no concrete policy in place to protect workers from being fired for turning in a positive screen or marijuana—even if they are not impaired.

It is for this reason that many experts believe companies need to revamp their drug policies when it comes to cannabis.

“You can’t deal with marijuana the same way you deal with alcohol,” Mark Pew, senior vice president at Prium, a medical intervention company, told Business Insurance. “It’s a very confusing message because presence does not equal impairment. Just because you test positive for (marijuana) does not mean you are cognitively impaired.”

Although the report does not show how many workers were fired as a result of a failed drug screen for marijuana, it suggests that positive results for weed have increased by 75 percent since 2013.

In addition, tests for amphetamine increased 64 percent in 2016. Positive tests for cocaine also went up 12 percent during that time.

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