Drug testing rates reflected an increase in positive results. According to Quest Diagnostics, the positivity rate on urine drug tests rose to 4.5% in 2019. This marks a 16-year high, and a notable bounce off the 30 year low of 3.5%. While several factors are responsible for this, there are a few that stand out.
The positivity rate increase is fueled significantly by an increase in marijuana use. Drug tests with positive results for THC went from 2.4% in 2015 to 3.1% in 2019. While multiple factors contributed to this, developing legalization of marijuana is a leading cause. Recreational marijuana is now legal in 11 states. This trend of increasing legalization will likely continue to expand. This leads many to expect higher positivity rates in the future.
Other illicit drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine have also seen an increase in use, particularly in the Midwest. For example, cocaine positivity for Midwestern workers jumped from 0.20% in 2018 to 0.28% in 2019. While this may not seem like much, it’s still an increase of 40%. On the other hand, the past year shows a decline in positive results for opioids and heroin.
While it remains to be seen what the positive result rates for 2020 will look like, there are a few things we can infer. The massive toll the coronavirus continues to take on American workers (mentally, physically, and otherwise), may lead to an increase in drug usage. Furthermore, as more states legalize marijuana, more companies may decide to forgo THC testing. This could result in the 4-panel drug test replacing the 5-panel as the standard for non-DOT tests.
Alliance 2020 encourages companies to review their drug testing policy to ensure their program aligns with company goals. Whether a 4-panel or a 12-panel test, you should feel confident that drug testing makes your workplace safer. If your company currently does not have a drug testing program, there may never be a better time than now.