Workplace Drug Use Skyrocketing In U.S.

By August 26, 2020 Media Release

Media Release 26 August 2020
New U.S. data released today by Quest Diagnostics has found that rates of marijuana positivity in the workforce have sharply risen both over the last year (2018-2019) and since legalisation was implemented. Furthermore, Quest Diagnostics also reported that workforce drug positivity hit a sixteen-year high in 2019.

Marijuana is the most commonly detected substance and has the highest drug positivity rate among all other tested substances across the majority of industry sectors in the U.S. Marijuana positivity has increased nearly 29% since 2015, according to Quest Diagnostics. Among the top-ranking industries for the highest rates of positive marijuana testing, transportation and warehousing was number one with 33.3%. Meanwhile the construction industry had an average of 26.7% positive marijuana testing (Quest Diagnostics, 2018).

One in four marijuana users who are employed admit to getting high at work within the past year, according to a new survey of cannabis consumers in Washington, Oregon and Colorado, three states where recreational weed is legal. Workforce marijuana-positivity rates in all “legal” states but one (Alaska) are above the national average (Quest Diagnostics, 2019). Most states that have legalised marijuana show an increasing trend in positivity rates.

Insurance claims have become a growing concern among companies in US states that have legalised marijuana because if marijuana use is allowed or drug testing ignored, employers are at risk of liability claims when a marijuana-related injury or illness occurs onsite.

“New Zealand employers have every reason to be concerned about attempts to legalise the recreational use of cannabis. The likely increase in marijuana use and acceptance as a result of any legalisation of the drug will lead to a more dangerous workplace, especially in safety-sensitive industries,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.

Top Increases Since Legalisation to 2019: 

Nevada: 142% increase since 2016 (1.9% vs. 4.6%)
Oregon: 136% increase since 2014 (1.9% vs. 4.5%)
Massachusetts: 113% since 2016 (2.7% vs. 3.8%)
Washington: 86.3% increase since 2014 (2.2% vs. 4.1%)
Colorado: 63% increase since 2013 (1.9% vs. 3.1%)
California: 45% increase since 2016 (2.2% vs. 3.2%)
Michigan: 44% increase since 2017 (2.7% vs. 3.9)
Massachusetts: 40% increase since 2016 (2.7% vs. 3.8) 

Top Increases 2018 – 2019:

Washington: 70% increase (2.4% vs. 4.1)
California: 33% increase (2.4% vs. 3.2%)
Maine: 28% increase (5.0% vs. 6.4%)
Michigan: 21.8% increase (3.2% vs. 3.9)
Nevada: 17.9% increase (3.9% vs. 4.6%)
Massachusetts: 15% increase (3.3% vs. 3.8%)