The percentage of employees in the U.S. workforce testing positing for cannabis following an on-the-job accident increased to its highest level in 25 years in 2022, according to a new analysis by Quest Diagnostics. In 2022, post-accident cannabis positivity of urine drug tests in the U.S. workforce was 7.3%, up from 6.7% in 2021.
The new peak follows a steady increase in post-accident cannabis positivity every year from 2012 to 2022. During that 10-year time frame, post-accident cannabis positivity increased 204.2%; from 2002 to 2009, post-accident cannabis positivity declined, according to Quest’s analysis.
In a press release, Keith Ward, general manager and vice president for employer solutions at Quest, said the “historic rise seems to correspond with sharp increases in positivity for marijuana in both pre-employment and post-accident drug tests, suggesting that changing societal attitudes about marijuana may be impacting workplace behaviors and putting colleagues at risk.”
In 2022, the combined U.S. workforce urine positivity for all drugs was 4.6% – the highest level in two decades, the report says. The 2021 and 2022 positivity rates were the highest since 2001, up more than 30% from an all-time low in 2010-2012. Ward noted that the post-accident drug screenings also found an increase in amphetamines which he called “notable, given the addictive potential and health risks associated with this class of drugs.”
The analysis found that cannabis positivity rates were higher in states that allow adult and medical cannabis use. In the general U.S. workforce, cannabis positivity increased 10.3% year-over-year (3.9% in 2021 versus 4.3% in 2022), while positivity increased 11.8% (5.1% in 2021 versus 5.7% in 2022) in states that permit adult cannabis use and 8.3% (3.6% in 2021 versus 3.9% in 2022) in states that allow medical cannabis use. In states in which neither recreational nor medical marijuana is legal, marijuana positivity increased 3.3% (3.0% in 2021 versus 3.1% in 2022) year-over-year and 14.8% over five years (2.7% in 2018 versus 3.1% in 2022).
In the federally mandated safety-sensitive workforce – positions that are usually not included when states pass laws barring using a positive cannabis test to disqualify a person from employment – cannabis positivity increased nationally 14% year-over-year (0.86% in 2021 versus 0.98% in 2022), including 17% (0.94% in 2021 versus 1.1% in 2022) in states where adult use is legal, and 5.9% (0.85% in 2021 versus 0.90% in 2022) in states in which medical cannabis is legal, according to the analysis.
In states in which neither adult nor medical use is legal, cannabis positivity increased 12.7% (0.79% in 2021 versus 0.89% in 2022) year over year and 1.1% over five years (0.88% in 2018 versus 0.89% in 2022).
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