Companies need workers - but people keep getting high

It has risen each year since, to 3.7 percent in 2013, 3.9 percent in 2014, 4.0 percent in 2015 and 4.2 percent in 2016, Quest Diagnostics reported. Failed drug tests, which are rising locally and nationally, further drain the pool of eligible job candidates.

More American workers are testing positive for drug use, according to Quest Diagnostic studies.

Marijuana positivity through oral fluid testing has gone up by 75 percent since 2013 among the general U.S. workforce and has also risen in both urine and hair testing.

In both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and the general US workforces, the positivity rate for cocaine in post-accident urine drug tests was more than twice that of pre-employment drug tests, and was also higher than the rate in random drug tests.

Although state laws have relaxed over the past four years, employers haven't eased up on testing for pot, even where it's legal. Recreational marijuana use is legal in OR - and legalization is beginning to drive increases nationally, with detections of marijuana use climbing almost 10% since 2015. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, permit medical marijuana. Employers in Colorado and Washington can fire or choose not to hire someone who tests positive for marijuana despite the state laws.

"This year's findings are remarkable because they show increased rates of drug positivity for the most common illicit drugs across virtually all drug test specimen types and in all testing populations,"said Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions".

Amphetamine positivity via urine testing increased from 2015 among both classes of workforces, the company said.

Colorado and Washington, which became the first two states to legalize weed in 2012, showed the largest growth in positive tests.

Fletcher believes people have become more casual about marijuana use as more states have legalized it for medical or recreational purposes. In addition, other drugs also rose. Positive workplace heroin tests increased for four years, then held steady last year among the general workforce and declined slightly among workers in safety-sensitive positions.

The positivity rate for cocaine via urine testing increased for the fourth consecutive year among the general USA workforce and the second straight year for the so-called federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce.

The culture change in pro-marijuana states hasn't broadly altered the way employers screen applicants, said Sample, the scientist.

Companies such as McLane, where employees operate heavy machinery, keep testing for marijuana out of concern for everyone's safety, said Stephens, the human resources manager.

"We still see some employers who say, 'We wouldn't have any workers if we tested for marijuana, '" Fletcher said.

After four straight years of increases, in 2016, urine testing positivity for heroin, indicated by the presence of the 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM) metabolite, held steady in the general US workforce and declined slightly among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers. Same goes for pilots, subway engineers and security guards.

"Some employers are extremely anxious about filling jobs", Graves said.

Vanessa Coleman

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