By the Numbers

America’s Favorite Illicit Drug: Marijuana

by Nicole Jupe on July 7, 2017

america's favorite drug is marijuanaMarijuana is the product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, containing the psychoactive chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Despite its illegal status, the drug reigns as America’s favorite and most commonly detected illicit drug. Since the 1920s, marijuana has been the subject of myths and propaganda while also being glamorized by pop culture, movies, and television. Attitudes relaxed in the 1960s and the drug gained popularity among the upper middle class and with counter-culture movements like Woodstock. Experimentation and widespread marijuana use followed. Thirty years later, voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996 and California became the first state to allow the medical use of marijuana. Today 30 states and the District of Columbia have their own versions of marijuana legislation; however, it remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance under Federal law.

Marijuana positivity continues to trend upward. The latest Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) data indicates that marijuana use has increased significantly in the last three years. Among the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce, which only utilizes urine testing, marijuana positivity increased nearly 10% (0.71% in 2015 versus 0.78% in 2016), the largest year-over-year increase in 5 years. In the general U.S. workforce, marijuana positivity climbed in urine testing (2.4% in 2015 versus 2.5% in 2016) and hair testing (7.0% in 2015 versus 7.3% in 2016). The most remarkable data pointed to a nearly 75% increase of marijuana positivity in oral fluid drug tests in the general U.S. workforce in the last 3 years (5.1% in 2013 to 8.9% in 2016).

Quest has also been analyzing data for several years in states that have passed medical and recreational marijuana use statutes. “2016 is the first year since Colorado and Washington approved recreational use that the rates of year-over-year change were sharply higher than the national average,” said Barry Sample, PhD, Senior Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions.

Globally, there are 182.5 million cannabis users, or 3.8% of the total population, according to the World Drug Report. Not surprisingly some employers report difficulty in finding job applicants who can pass a drug test. The most current findings for the United States from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health tell us:

  • An estimated 22.2 million adults, 8.3% of the total population, aged 12 or older currently use marijuana. The increase in marijuana use among people aged 12 or older reflects the increase in marijuana use by adults aged 26 or older.
  • About 1 in 5 young adults aged 18 to 25 (19.8%) were current users of marijuana.
  • Approximately 651,000 adolescents (ages 12-17), 1.8 million young adults, and 1.6 million adults suffer from a marijuana use disorder, pointing to dependence and recurrent use that affects health, responsibilities at work, home, or school.

That said, research and data indicates that marijuana use in society is up. Drug testing continues to be an important tool to maintain a safe, healthy, and productive drug-free workplace.

Visit QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI for the full Drug Testing Index™ report and data and download the latest Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure.

To search for marijuana positivity rates by 3-digit zip code in the United States for the past 10 years, visit QuestDiagnostics.com/DrugMap.

To learn more about drug testing for marijuana, visit our website or contact us online.

Mapping Drug Use in the U.S. Workforce

by Nicole Jupe on June 9, 2017

Which drugs are popular in my county? How does workplace drug use in my state compare to the rest of the country? Has drug use in the American workforce changed significantly during the past decade? Employers, media, government, and policymakers frequently look to Quest Diagnostics for insights about their specific geographies. These inquiries are especially prevalent this year with workplace drug use at a 12-year high.

Powered by data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI), our new interactive map illustrates workplace urine drug test positivity by drug type for the past 10 years. You can search all 50 states for the six of the most common illicit substances: 6-AM (heroin metabolite), amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP.) This innovative tool drills down to positivity percentages by 3-digit zip code and helps to depict regional, drug, and time-based positivity rate changes.

Reporters covering latest DTI findings used the map to compare local drug use trends to the national average, which vary by state and by drug preference. For example:

  • The Washington Post reported that the first two states to legalize marijuana, Colorado and Washington, outpaced the national average for urine drug test marijuana positivity.
  • Illinois’ positive drug test rate matched the national average, though employees’ drugs of choice vary widely in different parts of the state, according to The Chicago Tribune.
  • Positivity rates were higher than the national 4.2 percent positivity rate in Kansas (5.1 percent) and Missouri (4.9 percent), wrote The Kansas City Star.
  • Baltimore workers tested positive 2.5 times more often for heroin than workers nationally and more than 30 percent more often than the national average for marijuana, according to The Baltimore Sun.
  • Alabama and Oregon had the highest rates of drug use with 6.3 percent, and Hawaii had the lowest rates at just 2.7 percent, reported Vice.
  • California’s positivity rate of 3.9 percent was lower than the national rate, according to Daily Republic.
  • Four percent of New York workers tested positive for drugs in 2016, which is lower than the national average according to Newsday.
  • NJ.com reported that a greater percentage of New Jersey employees flunked their work-related drug tests last year than in at any point since 2002.

To see how your hometown ranks, search by zip code at QuestDiagnostics.com/DrugMap.

Download the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure.

For more information about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

Cocaine Continues Upward Trend

June 1, 2017Drug Testing

Cocaine is derived from the coca plant native to South America where many chew its leaves to squash pain, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. By the 1880s, doctors as famous as Sigmund Freud were studying cocaine as a “miracle drug” as an anesthetic for surgery and for a variety of health conditions including anxiety, addiction, and […]

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Increases in Illicit Drugs, Including Cocaine, Drive Workforce Drug Positivity to Highest Rate in 12 Years

May 16, 2017Drug Testing

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) reveals insights into patterns of drug use among the American workforce. It has been published annually for more than 25 years as a public service for government, employers, policymakers, media, and the general public. This year’s report will be presented at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association […]

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Prescription Misuse Epidemic Affects 7 in 10 Employers

May 11, 2017Drug Testing

As one of the nation’s leading safety advocates, the National Safety Council (NSC) spotlights issues in an effort to “eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.” The organization has identified prescription drug misuse as one of its key safety issues because of the […]

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By the Numbers: Going Green with eCCF

March 1, 2017By the Numbers

Our By the Numbers blog series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, data, and outputs that impact workplace drug testing programs. In this post, we examine the environmental impact of moving from paper-based custody and control forms (CCF) to electronic custody and control forms (eCCF). Paper-based CCFs have been a mainstay of the drug testing […]

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Data Shows Escalating Drug Use in the U.S. Workforce

January 24, 2017Drug Testing

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) is arguably the industry’s longest standing, most frequently relied upon resource for drug trends in the American workforce by policymakers, media, employers, and the general public. The DTI examines positivity by drug category, testing reason, and specimen type. Since its inception in 1988, this report has analyzed millions […]

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By the Numbers: Heroin Positivity Continues to Rise

December 15, 2016By the Numbers

Our By the Numbers blog series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, data, and outputs that impact workplace drug testing programs. In this post, we look at the heroin positivity rate. Headlines continue to put a spotlight on startling statistics about heroin addiction and sometimes feature shocking stories to warn the public of the drug’s dangers. The […]

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By the Numbers: Drug Detection Window by Specimen Type

December 5, 2016By the Numbers

Our ongoing By the Numbers series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, and data that impact workplace drug testing programs. This week, we examine one of the most frequently asked questions we receive as a laboratory: how long can drugs be detected using a drug test? The answer is not simple as you might think, […]

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By the Numbers: Customer Support

November 11, 2016By the Numbers

Our By the Numbers blog series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, data, and outputs that impact workplace drug testing programs. In this post, we look at the numerical values that enable our Customer Support team to serve our customers effectively. Improving the customer experience is the top priority of our Customer Support team. Our Customer Support […]

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