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Quest study finds marijuana and cocaine use at 12-year high in workplace drug testing nationwide

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Quest study finds marijuana and cocaine use at 12-year high in workplace drug testing nationwide

Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet


According to an analysis of over 10 million drug tests, Quest Diagnostics found that the American workforce reached the highest positivity rate in over a decade.

Barry Sample, Senior Director, Science and Technology at Quest said, “This year’s findings are remarkable because they show increased rates of drug positivity for the most common illicit drugs across virtually all drug test specimen types and in all testing populations.”

Let’s break this data down:


Positive drug test for Marijuana Increases Dramatically over Last Three Years

drug testing stats ebookWith recreational marijuana legalization on the rise, it shouldn’t be a surprise that increases of positive rates for marijuana in Colorado and Washington are double the national average, the first time it has outpaced the national average since marijuana legalization. For more information specifically on states in the Northwest, download our ebook. 

For the federally-mandated safety-sensitive workforce, like truck drivers, marijuana positivity increased from 0.71% in 2015 to 0.78% in 2016, nearly a 10% increase. This might not sound like a lot, but let’s put it another way: this is the largest year-over-year increase in five years.

In oral saliva testing, best drug testing method for recent drug use, marijuana positivity increased from 5.1 % in 2013 to 8.9% in 2016, about a 75% in the general U.S. workforce, according to Quest.

In Oregon, the marijuana positivity rate was 1.8% in 2007 and has increased to the nation’s highest of 3.9% in 2016, double that of the nation average! Check out the interactive map.


As Prescription Opiate Detection Declines, Heroin Detection Plateaus After 4 Years of Increases

In recent years, local police, state, and federal authorities have pushed hard to control the opioid crisis. Recently in New York, police arrested nearly three dozen people allegedly dealing heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Police found a huge opioid distribution facility in Queens where there was enough drugs to wipe out an entire community.

After four straight years of increases, last year’s urine testing positivity for heroin held steady in the general U.S. workforce and declined slightly among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers. This is a great sign but positivity rates are still really high and need to drop in order to show control over the opioid epidemic.

Learn more about the importance of drug testing with our monthly webinars. 


Other data from the report

  • quest study 2016 drug testing dataThe positivity rate in urine testing for cocaine increased for the fourth consecutive year in the general U.S. workforce and for the second consecutive year in the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce.
  • Cocaine positivity increased 12% in 2016, reaching a seven-year high in the general U.S. workforce.
  • Texas, South Carolina and North Carolina had the highest rates of positive cocaine tests.
  • In both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and the general U.S. workforces, the positivity rate for cocaine in post-accident urine drug tests was more than twice that of pre-employment drug tests, and was also higher than the rate in random drug tests.
  • Amphetamine and methamphetamine (meth) positivity continued its year-over-year upward trend, increasing more than 8% in urine testing in both the general U.S. and federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforces compared to 2015.
  • Post-accident testing shows that positive marijuana results are about 50% higher than found in random testing and about 40% higher than in pre-employment testing.
18 May, 17

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