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The number of U.S. workers who tested positive for marijuana following work-related accidents reached its highest level in a quarter-century last year, and researchers say the positive drug test increase correlates with more states legalizing cannabis recreationally and medicinally.
The new analysis released Thursday by Quest Diagnostics shows that workers who tested positive for THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, following job site incidents increased to 7.3% in 2022 from 6.7% in 2021, and that the figures follow a steady increase in post-accident cannabis positivity each year between 2012 and 2022.
Analysts looked at more than 6.3 million urine tests across the general U.S. workforce, and found that year-over-year positivity increased in nine out of 15 industries examined during the 10-year period, and that over the most recent five years workforce drug positivity increased in every industry category.
Marijuana positivity was highest in retail trade and accommodation and food services, while cocaine positivity also increased in 12 out of 15 industries during the study period.
The study shows that the combined U.S. workforce positivity for all drugs in 2022 was at the highest level in two decades, and that the 2021 and 2022 positivity rates were the highest they have been since 2001.
While the main focus was on marijuana, the study also showed that amphetamine use was also on the rise among U.S. workers, with positive drug tests for amphetamines increasing by 15.4% in 2022. The amphetamine data, researchers noted, does not differentiate between illicit drugs and prescribed medications.