This post was updated on .
Analysis: Companies need workers – but people keep getting high
The Washington Post
Workers at McLane drive forklifts and load hefty boxes into trucks. The grocery supplier, which runs a warehouse in Colorado, needs people who will stay alert — but prospective hires keep failing drug screening.
“Some weeks this year, 90 percent of applicants would test positive for something,” ruling them out for the job, said Laura Stephens, a human resources manager for the company in Denver.
The state’s unemployment rate is already low — 3 percent, compared to 4.7 percent for the entire nation. Failed drug tests, which are rising locally and nationally, further drain the pool of eligible job candidates.
“Finding people to fill jobs,” Stephens said, “is really challenging.”
Job applicants are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine and heroin at the highest rate in 12 years, according to a new report from Quest Diagnostics, a clinical lab that follows national employment trends. An analysis of about 10 million workplace drug screens from across the country in 2016 found positive results from urine samples increased from 4 percent in 2015 to 4.2 percent in 2016.
The most significant increase was in positive tests for marijuana, said Barry Sample, the scientist who wrote the report. Positive tests for the drug reached 2 percent last year, compared with 1.6 percent in 2012.
Although state laws have relaxed over the past four years, employers haven’t eased up on testing for pot, even where it’s legal.
California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada moved last year to legalize recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, permit medical marijuana.
Under federal law, however, weed remains illegal — and employers in the United States can refuse to hire anyone who uses it, even if they have a prescription, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
In the oral fluid testing category, which picks up on recent drug use, and is typically used to test workers on the job, positive drug tests for marijuana surged about 75 percent in the United States over the past four years — from 5.1 percent in 2013 to 8.9 percent in 2016, according to Quest. The data show smaller increases in urine and hair testing (a 4.2 percent increase over the past year).
Legal marijuana is spreading across the country -- but employers aren't changing their ways.
Colorado and Washington, which became the first two states to legalize weed in 2012, showed the largest growth in positive tests. Urine screens that detected pot rose 11 percent in Colorado and 9 percent in Washington, the first time either state outpaced the national average since residents could lawfully light up a joint.
Quest noted that employers are also increasingly encountering job applicants who take other illicit substances. Tests that turned up cocaine increased 12 percent in 2016, hitting a seven-year high of 0.28 percent, up from 0.25 percent in 2015. Positive test results for amphetamine jumped 8 percent.
The culture change in pro-marijuana states hasn’t broadly altered the way employers screen applicants, said Sample, the scientist. “Ninety-nine percent of drug panels we perform in Colorado and Washington,” he said, “still test for marijuana.”
Companies such as McLane, where employees operate heavy machinery, keep testing for marijuana out of concern for everyone’s safety, said Stephens, the human resources manager. The firm conducts follicle tests, which can catch traces of weed for up to three months after someone smokes.
She said the company saw “a big spike” in failed tests after pot became legal.
Meanwhile, Colorado's legal marijuana business is booming. By 2016, Colorado had 440 marijuana retail stores and 531 medical dispensaries, one report showed last year — double the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks stores in the state.
Curtis Graves, the information resource manager at the Mountain States Employers Council , a business group in Colorado, said a small number of his members have dropped THC testing from drug screens, but others don’t have that option,
Truck and school bus drivers, for example, are required by law to prove they don’t have marijuana in their system before taking a job. Same goes for pilots, subway engineers and security guards. The Department of Transportation does not recognize medical marijuana as a “valid medical explanation” for failing a drug test.
“Some employers are extremely worried about filling jobs,” Graves said. “Work that is considered ‘safety sensitive’ typically requires that test, and that’s not changing
Sales of legal pot up 30% this year and sales higher than Tequila and Viagra!
In reply to this post by canadiana
Time to change pot test.just because is in your system doesn't mean you're loaded or impaired to do your job like alcohol . Drug tests are just as obsolete as the war on drugs
This post was updated on .
DCM90: I disagree with you.
As the article says, one big reason for street drug testing is to prevent work accidents and keep insurance low. Many people don't realize that corporate and insurance companies "force" employers to keep safe work places ... hence, drug tests and many other screening items that might determine who is hired.
COWORKERS: Also, many drug users also don't realize that co-workers may NOT want pot or drug addicts around them. I've worked on jobs where a small misstep could literally cost lives because some "foo dinen torque a nut right", forgot some step, or was plain negligent. I've witnessed workers quietly "drop a dime" on someone known or suspected of doing pot or other drugs. Usually, someone would tell the boss something like, "Ya know, X... he's a fukin jerk. I can't work with him. Either he goes or I go." That would be enough of a hint... and X would find himself jobless maybe with a "do not employ" reputation in the work community.
Point is, workers in dangerous occupations have always watched out for co-workers who could endanger them... nothing new here. My friend, your co-workers are the first line of defense to keep the work site safe. So, in effect, don't worry about the drug tests! Also, these days with the digital Internet cloud, you may become unemployable or tainted as a pot head or drug addict.
If I was a parent or uncle, aunt to youngsters, I would drive the above points home. In the near future it may be a good selling point to be known as a "clean" "non" drug user with better prospects for better jobs and income. Young man/woman, "Why soil your reputation?"
Denial : One common feature of alcohol and illicit drug use is the user's tendency to "deny" or minimize adverse job performance affects. Many alcoholics, drug users, and drug addicts commonly delude themselves into believing that they perform "better" on jobs while a "lil" bit high. [ Curiously, this may be "temporarily " true in certain situations like during WWII where soldiers and airmen were given amphetamines to cope with fatigue. The trucking industry under great pressures finally took strict measures to eliminate truckers' amphetamine abuse due to the many fatalities these drugs caused. Many soldiers in the Viet-Nam War discovered that heroin helped them cope with fear of death issues.]
Ex-Addicts and employment: If I owed a business I would do all in my power to keep "active" alcoholics and drug addict totally out of my place. To help me do this, I would explicitly hire one or more "recovered" addicts with proven clean records to help me keep a "clean" safe place. I would pay them well and openly recognize and value their contributions. Why? Because recovered addicts are often great workers and because they can spot "bad" apples before they spoil the barrel. Years ago, I knew of a major corporation that hired ex-addicts to do the above. Question: If you worked in a nuclear power plant , would you feel comfortable working with a pot or meth user ?
Mexico-WatcherNote the pot plant in front of the lil kid.
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