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Drug use by the American workforce remains at its highest rate in more than a decade, with marijuana use rising in states that legalized it recreationally, according to an analysis released Tuesday by Quest Diagnostics Inc.
The Secaucus, New Jersey-based medical diagnostics firm said it examined more than 10 million workplace drug test results and found that increases in cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana resulted in a positivity rate for the combined U.S. workforce of 4.2% in 2017. The latest figure is the same as in 2016, but a dramatic increase over the 3.5% positivity rate from 2012, which represented a 30-year low, Quest said in a statement.
Researchers believe the analysis of 2017 data suggests shifting patterns of drug use, with cocaine and amphetamines positivity surging in some areas of the country and marijuana positivity rising sharply in states with newer recreational use statutes, according to the release.
Other findings included:
“It’s unfortunate that we mark 30 years of the Drug-Free Workplace Act with clear evidence that drugs continue to invade the country’s workplaces,” Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics, said in the statement. “Not only have declines appeared to have bottomed out, but also in some drug classes and areas of the country drug positivity rates are increasing. These changing patterns and geographical variations may challenge the ability of employers to anticipate the ‘drug of choice’ for their workforce or where to best focus their drug prevention efforts to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.”
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration could cite employers who use post-incident drug testing policies to retaliate against employees reporting injuries and illnesses under the agency’s electronic record-keeping rule, according to an agency official.