Employees are cheating on workplace drug tests at record rates, and legalizing cannabis may be to blame

The increased use of recreational marijuana in states where cannabis is legal has led to manipulated drug tests.

The increased use of recreational marijuana in states where cannabis has been legalized seems to be causing a surge in fraudulent workplace drug tests.

According to the Wall Street Journal, figures from Quest Diagnostics reveal that workers are engaging in drug screen cheating at a rate that hasn’t been observed in over three decades.

The number of Americans testing positive for listed substances has remained steady for the third consecutive year. However, this may be due to an increase in individuals resorting to extreme measures to conceal their consumption habits, especially in occupations such as heavy machinery operators or vehicle drivers.

According to Suhash Harwani, Quest’s senior director of science for workforce health solutions, some American workers are resorting to extreme measures in order to cheat the drug-testing process. He specifically highlighted marijuana as the primary culprit.

According to Quest data, there has been a significant rise in the use of alternative methods for urine testing. In fact, the company reported a sixfold increase in substituted samples last year, which is the highest rate they have ever recorded. People are now resorting to using someone else’s urine, synthetic urine that can be purchased online, or even animal urine as a means of circumventing the testing process.

Blending in additives is another common example that can invalidate results and cause a subject to fail drug screening, rather than swapping urines.

Amphetamines rank second after marijuana

Last year, Quest reported that 4.6% of the over 8.4 million urine samples tested came back positive.

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In states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized, such as New York and Colorado, there has been a significant increase in positive drug tests. Last year, 5.8% of the tests came back positive, compared to only 2.4% in 2015.

In contrast, states that did not implement the same measures experienced a less significant rise, with the positivity rate only climbing from 2.6% to 3.3% in 2015.

Employers are now reevaluating their drug test policies to adapt to the variances in laws across different jurisdictions.

Amphetamines are the second most frequently detected substance in drug screening, following marijuana. The positivity rate for amphetamines saw a slight increase from 1.3% in 2019 to 1.5% last year.

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