American workers are testing positive for marijuana usage at a rate that is higher than during the hippie movement.
Workers subjected to marijuana tests at work tested positive at the highest rate in history, according to one of the largest testing providers, despite growing public support for legalized marijuana.
Some health professionals believe that COVID-19 is playing a major role in the increase of marijuana usage as people turn to weed to relieve the stress brought about by the virus.
“There is no question that before COVID-19, rates of workplace marijuana positivity were trending in the wrong direction,” Barry Sample, Quest’s senior director of science and technology, said in a press release. “Organizations will need to consider the impact of COVID-19 not only on workplace safety but also as a health concern for their employees for some time to come.”
Marijuana remained the most commonly detected drug, Quest said, despite a growing number of states where its medical and recreational use has been legalized. That number’s expected to grow even more in 2020.
“We’ve seen some employers take kind of a back-seat position on marijuana and be more willing to maybe change their drug-testing requirements,” Michelle Bearden, chief risk officer for a Texas-based staffing firm said.
Still, some US government agencies and many “safety-sensitive” industries consider cannabis a dealbreaker for candidates. Quest’s Sample says “changing attitudes toward its use could pose heightened risks especially in safety-sensitive positions and those states exploring legalization.”
Opiates and heroin bucked overall trends, with positivity rates falling compared to recent years. Positivity rates for commonly abused painkillers like oxycodone or Oxymorphone have fallen nearly 55% since 2015, Quest said. Still, overdose deaths have soared in the US during the pandemic, as economic uncertainty climbs with massive unemployment.