To Test…or Not to Test…for Marijuana

As you might imagine, A-Check gets a lot of questions from our clients regarding marijuana legalization and new drug testing trends we’re seeing as a result. We love fielding questions like these, mainly because it shows our clients take evolving legislation seriously when developing or enhancing employment screening programs.

We thought this might be a good opportunity to very quickly share some helpful information on the topic, especially for those who are wondering whether or not to continue testing for marijuana in their drug screens.

First, with a growing number of states legalizing recreational marijuana, it stands to reason—and research supports—drug test positivity across the majority of industries is also on the rise. It is also shown that marijuana continues to be among the most commonly detected substances.

A-Check closely tracks overall drug screening activity across our own clients, and we can report that even with widening recreational and medical marijuana legalization, clients are still testing for marijuana 98% of the time. Of course, pre-employment testing can vary by screening package, state, or job position (safety-sensitive for example). And for post-employment testing (either for post-accident or for reasonable suspicion) we continue to test for marijuana 100% of the time.

Taking this one step further, Quest Diagnostics—our drug screening partner—shares insight with us regarding marijuana testing. They report that across all Quest national testing (pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, etc.) approximately 98-99% of all urine tests include marijuana. As a separate group, testing for marijuana in recreational use states is still nearly 95%. That does not represent a significant declining trend due to increasing legalization.

Finally, let’s take a quick look at a very recent position paper from the National Safety Council (NSC), stating that while the amount of THC detectable in a person’s body does not directly correlate with a level of impairment, NSC believes it is unsafe to be under the influence of cannabis while working in a safety-sensitive position. Further evidence that perhaps we will not see a significant decline in marijuana testing for some time.

We hope insight like this is helpful to you, and welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you might have regarding your drug screening needs.

Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index (DTI) Shows Steep Decline in U.S. Positivity Rates

Key findings from the special Quest Diagnostics 25th anniversary Drug Testing Index (DTI)includes data from more than 6.7 million tests:

  • The positivity rate for the Combined U.S. Workforce declined 74%, from 13.6% in 1988 to 3.5% in 2012.
  •  The positivity rate for the Federally Mandated, Safety Sensitive Workforce declined by 38%, from 2.6% in 1992 to 1.6% in 2012.
  • The positivity rate for the U.S. General Workforce declined by 60%, from 10.3% in 1992 to 4.1% in 2012.
 Learn More – View the full report: Quest Diagnostics 25th Anniversary Drug Testing Index

Drug Screening: Testing for Synthetic Cannabinoids Available

Synthetic cannabinoids are sold as “herbal incense” and resemble potpourri. They have gained media attention in recent years as a “legal high.” While most of the substances are not actually cannabinoids, they act on the same receptor in the human body as Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient in marijuana, and produce psychoactive effects similar to marijuana.

Some of the more common product names include K2 (K3, K4), Spice, Bliss, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Genie, Mad Hatter, Rocket Engine and Sky. Marketed as “safe” highs, synthetic cannabinoids are commonly purchased in head shops, tobacco shops, various retail outlets and on the internet.

Urine testing for the synthetic cannabinoids panel is screened using Liquid Chromatography tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). Any non-negative drug screen is also confirmed by LC/MS/MS – the newest lab-based urine drug testing technology.

Learn More: Synthetic Cannabinoids Fact Sheet from Quest Diagnostics

Substance Abuse Screening Options: Instant Drug Detection Devices

Today’s generation of advanced instant screening devices allow employers to clear and place applicants with speed and peace of mind.

For employers and job functions not regulated by DOT, the use of these devices can mean the difference between instant placement of an applicant and two days wait through a lab-based urinalysis process.

Available evidence shows virtually no difference in error rates between lab-based substance abuse screening and reputable instant-detection type devices, making them an ideal option that delivers results faster and more economically.

T-CUP – Instant Urinalysis Cups
A-Check offers the Premier Biotech T-CUP, an instant drug detection cup that features detection of up to 15 drugs of abuse with an accuracy of 99 percent. Results are available in as little as one minute. The T-CUP is fast, efficient and economical.

ORAL DETECT – Instant Oral Fluid Drug Detection
For a less intrusive method with virtually no “ick” factor, A-Check offers the Premier Biotech ORAL DETECT, a unique and innovative oral fluid drug testing device that delivers accurate results in as little as 6 minutes. Oral Detect eliminates the need for controlled collection sites and same-sex collectors, prevents adulteration, and eliminates “shy bladder” issues.

Regulated Industries
For our regulated industries clients covered under DOT rules, A-Check offers a comprehensive suite of lab-based drug and alcohol screening services tailored to the needs of each client, ensuring compliance and safety. A-Check has extensive experience in development and management of DOT programs covered under FMCSA, FAA, and PHMSA agencies.

the 2012 DOT Random Testing Rates Notice from the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance.

Partnering with an experienced third party administrator like A-Check for your substance abuse screening program ensures the effectiveness of this crucial link in your organization’s risk mitigation strategy. Contact A-Check today to discuss how we can help you meet your organization’s substance abuse screening needs.