Drug Testing

Louis Reed

Report: National Cannabis Use Up, Opiate Use Down

Positive drug test results are up across the country, with the largest increases in states with recent legalization and in safety-sensitive jobs.

Full story after the jump.

Positive drug test results are at their highest level in a decade, according to a report by Quest Diagnostics.

The report also shows that cannabis use has increased to record levels. Year over year, positive cannabis testing has climbed to 2.6 percent of the general workforce. In the “safety-sensitive” workforce, which includes pilots, commercial vehicle drivers, and workers in nuclear power plants, 0.84% of workers tested positive in 2017.

Also striking was the percentage of positive cannabis tests in the latest states to legalize cannabis. Nevada‘s positive drug testing rate climbed to 43%, Massachusetts was at 14% and California‘s was 11% in 2017. Those rates are significantly higher than before the states passed legalization in 2016.

“These increases are similar to the increases we observed after recreational marijuana use statues were passed in Washington and Colorado,” said Dr. Barry Sample of Quest Diagnostics.

Alongside the workforce’s cannabis use increase was a 17 percent decrease in the rates of positive urine tests for opiates.

“The depth of our large-scale analysis supports the possibility that efforts by policymakers, employers, and the medical community to decrease the availability of opioid prescriptions and curtail the opioid crisis is working to reduce their use, at least among the working public.” — Kim Samano, Scientific director, Quest Diagnostics, via the report

The results of the study can be seen in an interactive map on dtidrugmap.com.

While the increase in positive cannabis tests is concerning to some — especially the increased rates among safety-sensitive workforces — ultimately, more research needs to be done on the effects of cannabis on coordination and perception before a true judgement can be made.

Until then, it’s hard not to see cannabis as a potential tool for lowering the rate of deadly opiate use in the U.S.

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