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In 2020, Marijuana Drug Testing Positivity Continued to Increase Among U.S. Workers

Quest Diagnostics—A-Check’s drug screening partner and a leading provider of diagnostic services—released their 2020 Drug Testing Index. It is thought to be the first large-scale national analysis of U.S. workforce drug testing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes findings from more than 9 million drug tests performed throughout 2020.

In general, the reported positivity for most drug categories—with the exception of marijuana—remained fairly flat, or somewhat declined, in the combined U.S. workforce. Overall, it was down slightly in 2020 (at 4.4%) compared to 2019 (4.5%). Throughout the safety-sensitive, federally mandated U.S. workforce (based on more than 2 million drug tests), positive drug test results declined from 2.4% in 2019 to 2.2% in 2020.

While COVID-19 altered the workforce landscape last year, the increasing positivity trend in marijuana testing continued, in part due to state-by-state legislation regarding adult medical or recreational use legalization. In the U.S. general workforce, marijuana positivity increased in urine testing (3.1% in 2019 versus 3.6% in 2020), in oral fluid testing (9.1% in 2019 versus 12.3% in 2020) and in hair testing (7.1% in 2019 versus 8.7% in 2020). Worth noting, especially as many companies are now initiating plans to return employees to the office. It’s important for employers to continue considering workforce drug testing as a key effort in maintaining workplace and employee safety.

Here are just a few findings from Quest:

  • While positivity is down for most drug categories, it increased very slightly for ecstasy—an increase from 0.008% in 2019 to 0.010% in 2020. Still, this represents a very low positivity number of 1 in every 10,000 tests overall.
  • Positivity rates declined in federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce testing categories. Cocaine declined to 0.25% positivity in 2019 versus 0.20% in 2020. Opiates represent a similar positivity decline from 0.26% in 2019 to 0.21% in 2020. In this category, positivity for marijuana did decline very slightly (0.88% in 2019 versus 0.79% in 2020).
  • Marijuana continued increases in the general U.S. workforce, with lower positivity rates in states with only medical marijuana use or no form of legalized marijuana use versus states with legalized recreational statutes.
  • The marijuana positivity rate of post-accident test results grew faster than the rate for pre-employment testing. In 2012 (when the first state legalized marijuana), Pre-employment marijuana positivity was 1.9% and post-accident positivity as 2.4%. Fast forward to 2020, pre-employment marijuana positivity reached 3.7% while post-accident positivity surged to 6.4%.
  • Cocaine positivity was the lowest since 2012 in the general U.S. workforce, falling to 0.22% in 2020 versus 0.27% in 2019.
  • Workforce positivity increased significantly in multiple industries with the Retail Trade sector continuing to top the list. For example, the Accommodations and Food Service category had the highest workforce positivity for marijuana at 6.3%.
  • More Quest insight can be found online within their 2020 Drug Testing Index.

Let’s work together for the continued safety of your workplace

Based on the potential for drug abuse due to ongoing COVID uncertainty, as well as personal and professional life stress, it stands to reason that you continue your company’s focus on workplace safety, as well as all employee health concerns.

Whether you are maintaining a remote workforce well into the future, have begun bringing employees back into the office, or are implementing a business plan that builds on a hybrid workforce (as so many now are choosing to do), screening your employees for substance abuse can greatly help ensure you’re doing all you can to promote a safe workplace and healthy, productive team members.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your options, what you currently might have in place, or to help you build an effective, compliant drug screening program for your company. We’re here to help, and as always, truly appreciate your call and your business.

Featured

Compliance Clips for June 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

Fair Credit Reporting Act – Permissible Purpose
We always like to pass along good articles we find as reminders of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and requirements regarding how your FCRA Policy should reflect permissible purpose for obtaining and using a candidate’s personal information. This quick read is a good refresher on obtaining consumer report information, subject to the following permissible purposes:

  • in accordance with a consumer’s written instructions
  • for employment purposes
  • for underwriting insurance
  • in connection with the extension of credit to, or the review or collection of an account of, the consumer
  • for a legitimate business purpose in connection with a transaction initiated by a consumer
  • for making pre-screened firm offers of credit or insurance

READ MORE

And Even More about FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check.
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is taking precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now August 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

BAN THE BOX

Arizona
While Arizona won’t allow job and occupational license seekers to receive expungement of convictions from record, a new law does allow certain convictions to be set aside through a Certificate of Second Chance. The Arizona Governor signed House Bill 2067 into law, which will take effect August 27, 2021, benefiting ex-offenders by allowing them to seek to set aside certain felony and misdemeanor convictions specifically to increase greater employment and housing opportunities. Crimes excluded from being set aside include but are not limited to: 1) driving on a suspended license; 2) criminal speeding, felony flight, aggressive driving, and hit and run; 3) convictions involving a deadly weapon, or convictions involving infliction of serious physical injury; 4) convictions requiring the individual to register as a sexual offender or for offender monitoring; 5) sexual motivation convictions; and 6) convictions involving victims under age 15.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Alabama
On May 17, the Governor signed Alabama’s medical marijuana law, making Alabama the 37th state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Alabama employers are still permitted to establish drug testing, drug-free workplace policies. The law identifies specific qualifying medical conditions, including but not limited to autism spectrum disorder (ASD); cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; depression; epilepsy or a condition causing seizures; and HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss. While the law grants access to medical marijuana, it will not impose new obligations on employers.
READ MORE

Quest Diagnostics 2020 Drug Testing Index
With 9 million+ drug tests in 2020, Quest Diagnostics releases its latest Drug Testing Index, with insight across a range of drugs and workplace industries. Marijuana testing continues positivity increases in the general U.S. workforce. Some additional key findings from the latest Drug Testing Index include:

  • Positivity down or flat for most drug categories, but increased for ecstasy
  • Positivity rates declined in federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce testing categories
  • Marijuana continued double-digit year-over-year increases in the general U.S. workforce, with lower positivity rates in states with only medical marijuana use or no form of legalized marijuana use versus states with legalized recreational statutes
  • The marijuana positivity rate of post-accident test results grew faster than the rate for pre-employment testing
  • Cocaine positivity lowest since 2012 in the general U.S. workforce
  • Workforce positivity increased significantly in multiple industries with the Retail Trade sector continuing to top the list
    READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

COVID-19

COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection
Although Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically impacted the business landscape worldwide, it is also encouraging to now see employers focused on safely and gradually welcoming their workforces back to the office. Depending on your company’s return to office policies, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing COVID-19 testing and surveillance solutions through A-Check’s medical partner networks. Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.
READ MORE

Questions?
We’re here to help!