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More workers testing positive for marijuana, annual index shows


Photo: Rocky89/iStockphoto

Secaucus, NJ — The percentage of workers testing positive for marijuana after an on-the-job incident or injury hit a 25-year high in 2022, according to an analysis conducted by Quest Diagnostics.

Researchers from the lab services provider examined the results of more than 10.6 million samples taken last year from the combined U.S. workforce – both the general workforce and employees in safety-sensitive jobs who undergo federally mandated drug testing (including pilots, truck drivers and train conductors) – for the annual Quest Diagnotics’ Drug Testing Index. Overall, 7.3% of the samples tested positive – up from 6.7% in 2021, for a 9% increase.

Over the past decade, post-incident marijuana positivity has soared by 204.2%. Although marijuana use remains illegal under federal law, its medical use has been legalized in 38 states and the District of Columbia, and 21 states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use. 

Marijuana positivity was highest in accommodation and food services (7%) and retail trade (7.7%) – rising 42.9% and 42.6%, respectively, from 2018.

Among the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce, marijuana positivity jumped 14%.

Katie Mueller, a National Safety Council senior program manager focused on cannabis safety, suggests that employers create and maintain a cannabis-use policy, build a safety-focused workplace culture, and educate workers to keep everyone safe on the job.

“Intoxicating cannabis products, including marijuana, can have a major impact on safety at work and have been proven to slow reaction time, impact memory and impair skills essential to driving,” Mueller said. “The data provides compelling evidence that increased use of cannabis products by employees can contribute to greater risk for injuries in the workplace.”

NSC is hosting a series of webinars on cannabis safety. 

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