American Workers are Testing Positive for Cannabis – All-Time High Report

American workers are testing positive for cannabis at the highest rate ever recorded, according to a recent data analysis from Quest Diagnostics.

An all-time high 4.3% of the general U.S. workforce – which excludes federally mandated safety-sensitive jobs – tested positive for cannabis in 2022, a 10.3% increase from 3.9% positivity in 2021. The increase in positive cannabis tests also applied to the federally mandated safety-sensitive workforce, which saw a 14% increase from 0.86% to 0.98%.

While positive cannabis drug tests increased across a number of demographics, there were larger increases in states where cannabis is legal compared to states where it is illegal.

Cannabis positivity increased by 11.8% to 5.7% total in states where recreational cannabis is legal, and increased by 8.3% to 3.9% total in states where medical cannabis is legal. For states where neither recreational or medical cannabis are legal, cannabis positivity among U.S. workers increased 3.3% to 3.1% total.

Post-accident cannabis positivity drug tests among general U.S. workforce employees increased by 9% to 7.3% overall in 2022.

“Our 2022 Quest Diagnostics analysis shows that the overall U.S. workforce positivity rate continued to be at a historically elevated level in 2022, even as much of the nation’s workforce returned to the office post-pandemic,” said Keith Ward, general manager and vice president for employer solutions at Quest Diagnostics. “This 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.”

Taking a wider view of post-accident cannabis drug tests, positivity has increased 202.4% from 2012 – when Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis – to 2022. That increase follows an overall decline in post-accident cannabis positivity drug tests from 2002 to 2009, Quest notes.

“Intoxicating cannabis products, including marijuana, can have a major impact on safety at work and have been proven to slow reaction time, impact memory and impair skills essential to driving. State legalization of the drug creates new challenges for employers,” said Katie Mueller, a senior program manager at the National Safety Council focusing on cannabis safety. “The Quest data provide compelling evidence that increased use of cannabis products by employees can contribute to greater risk for injuries in the workplace. It is imperative employers take the proper steps to create and maintain a policy that addresses cannabis use, build a safety-focused culture and educate the workforce to keep all workers safe on and off the job.”

The research from Quest Diagnostics, an information services provider which began analyzing annual workforce drug testing in 1988, collected more than 10.6 million deidentified urine, hair and oral fluid drug test results reported in 2022.

Quest Diagnostics’ 2022 Drug Testing Index data analysis is available here.

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Zach Mentz

Zach Mentz is an editor at Flavor Fix, covering cannabis, CBD and alcohol news and featured stories. Previously, he worked as senior editor of Cannabis Business Times (CBT). Mentz is a graduate of the Tim Russert Department of Communication at John Carroll University.

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