For a long time, we have recommended and encouraged employers to be aware of workforce drug positivity in their workplaces. In order to understand the depth and breadth of this problem and provide employees and third parties with a safe environment, you must be willing to drug test for marijuana.
This recent article revealed an alarming statistic—that post-accident workforce drug positivity for marijuana reached a 25-year high in 2022. This analysis was performed by Quest Diagnostics. Post-accident marijuana positivity in urine tests was 7.3% in 2022, which is an increase compared to 6.7% in 2021. This new peak also comes after a steady increase in post-accident workforce drug positivity since 2012.
These increases correspond with the legalization of marijuana in certain states. Katie Mueller, a senior program manager at the National Safety Council agrees that the statistics are serious:
“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… 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.”
Marijuana positivity in states that allow for both medical and recreational marijuana usage continued to climb as well, and the difference is noticeable. In the general workforce, workforce drug positivity increased by 10.3% year over year. In states with legal marijuana, positivity increased by 11.8%. In states where only medical marijuana is legal, the positivity rate increased by 8.3%. In states where there is no legal consumption of marijuana, positivity only increased by 3.3%.
The good news is that proactive urine testing can help decrease workforce drug positivity rates. Post-accident and pre-employment positivity test rates among safety-sensitive populations have historically been (and continue to be) lower. This suggests that the mere expectation of testing can deter marijuana usage.
Safety-sensitive jobs are present in many different types of work environments, and the employees performing them have responsibilities that have a higher risk of harm to public safety. The increase in workforce drug positivity for safety-sensitive workers shows the need for proactive testing and random testing to ensure compliance.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs since 1999. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. To learn more about the rights of employees who test positive for marijuana, Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the website at randisiandassociates.com