Dr. Barry Sample

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.

See 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.

Cocaine Continues Upward Trend

by Nicole Jupe on June 1, 2017

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 pain. However, by the turn of the 20th century, fatalities were associated with cocaine and an article in The New York Times by Dr. Edward Huntington Williams warned of the drug’s dangers, calling its effects “cocaine-craze insanity.” In 1914, Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act which banned the non-medical use of cocaine in the United States. Today, cocaine is classified as a Schedule II controlled narcotic with a high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

After an analysis of more than ten million workplace drug tests, cocaine made headlines in this year’s Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) report because its positivity rose 12 percent in 2016, reaching a seven-year high of 0.28 percent. The data also pointed to a trend of consecutive year increases of cocaine positivity rates for both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and general U.S. workforces. Over time, cocaine positivity has fluctuated in the U.S. general workforce with its highest level of 0.91 percent in 1998 and its lowest positivity rate of 0.23 percent in 2012 according the the DTI.

“In addition, 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 for both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and the general U.S. workforces. While a positive test doesn’t prove drug use caused the accident, it raises the question as to whether it played a role,” said Barry Sample, PhD, Senior Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions.

The most current findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health tell us:

  • An estimated 8.2 percent of adults (aged 26 or older), or 17.1 million people, currently use an illicit drug
  • 580,000 young adults (ages 18-25) and 1.2 million adults currently use cocaine
  • Approximately 31,000 adolescents (ages 12-17), 229,000 young adults, and 637,000 adults suffer from a cocaine use disorder, pointing to dependence and recurrent use that affects health and responsibilities at work, home, or school

Visit QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI for the full report and data.

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

Download our new Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure.

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

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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I’m There: Dr. Steven Sykes

May 15, 2017We're There

Dr. Steven Sykes rotated throughout the forensic toxicology laboratory during his multi-year post-doctoral fellowship to learn every aspect of the drug testing process. By training alongside lab technicians and certifying scientists, he gained unique insights into what it takes to reach the highest standards of quality. In this month’s feature of our “I’m There” series, Steven […]

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Common Questions about Marijuana

April 28, 2017Illicit drugs

Many employers continue to ask questions about marijuana in the era of state legislation surrounding medical and recreational use statutes. In an effort to provide information about topics related to the science, drug testing, policy, and the law, Quest Diagnostics experts have provided responses to the some of the most frequently asked questions we receive […]

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Employee Protections in the Era of Medical Marijuana Legislation

March 10, 2017Drug Testing

More than twenty states have enacted medical marijuana laws since Proposition 215 was passed by California voters in 1996. The earliest medical marijuana laws typically only provided criminal protections, however in the past two decades, laws are now extending protections to housing, schooling, domestic relations, and employment. State marijuana regulations uniquely address aspects such as […]

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Weeding Out the Facts Webinar Recap

February 21, 2017Illicit drugs

Employers face challenges as states continue to pass marijuana legislation, while the substance is still illegal under federal law.  In our recent webinar, two highly-regarded industry experts, Dr. Barry Sample, Senior Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics, and D. Faye Caldwell, Attorney at Law, Caldwell Everson, presented facts and insight about marijuana and the workplace […]

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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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Webinar: Marijuana & the Workplace

January 9, 2017Webinars

Voters passed new measures this election season to allow recreational and medicinal marijuana use in their states, bringing the count to 29 states where cannabis is “legal” in some form. Research also indicates relaxing attitudes towards marijuana and a 2015 Gallup Poll showed that 1 in 4 people have tried the drug. The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing […]

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We’re There with National Bobblehead Day

January 6, 2017We're There

Believe it or not, this Saturday marks the second annual National Bobblehead Day. These disproportionate figurines have been sought-after collector items dating back to the mid-18th century, known then as Nodding-head figures. However, they were not mass-produced until the 1950s during the golden era of baseball. In the 1960s, the Beatles helped propel bobbleheads into the […]

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