marijuana

America’s Favorite Illicit Drug: Marijuana

by Nicole Jupe on July 7, 2017

Marijuana 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.

An Exploration of Addiction: Young Adults

by Pablo Bolanos on June 27, 2017

In the previous installment of our Exploration of Addiction series, we examined the adolescent years and how access, curiosity, and a number of other factors can influence adolescent drug and alcohol use. We now turn our attention to a demographic that is sometimes synonymous with excess, experimentation, and substance-abuse: young adulthood.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, college-age drinking is perceived by many young adults as a core part of their life. Casual or recreational drinking is one aspect of the experience; however binge drinking can create problematic behavior with sometimes unforgiving consequences.

More than one-third of full-time college students aged 18-22 engaged in binge drinking in the past month, with approximately 1 in 5 using an illicit drug in the same period of time according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Research reveals exactly how damaging this new age of personal discovery can be if drugs and alcohol abuse takes hold:

  • One in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking
  • About 97,000  students between ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape
  • An estimated 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder
  • Approximately 1,800 college students between ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, like car accidents

In addition to increased alcohol use and binge drinking during early adulthood, experimentation with drugs also increases. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that drug use is highest among people in their late teens and twenties. Of all age demographics, this group corresponded to 21 percent of reported drug use in the past month.

What does this mean to the future of those young-adults that partake in this troubling trend? If left unchecked, this group is at greater risk of developing a substance-abuse disorder as they enter the workforce, typically the next stage in their lives. Understandably, employers are unlikely to hire job candidates or tolerate employees who abuse drugs or alcohol. For this reason, it’s crucial for those closest to young adults to watch for signs of a budding substance-abuse disorder and intervene as soon as possible. Thankfully, many resources such as Partnership for Drug-Free Kids can help to facilitate conversations when drug and alcohol abuse is suspected.

In the end, prevention efforts centered on education and open lines of communication are essential to divert risky and dangerous behavior before it becomes life altering. To learn more about this blog series, read our introductory post.

Read more about how drug abuse affects the workplace, visit our website or contact us online.

Name That Drug: Seemingly Superhuman

June 23, 2017Drug Testing

DATIA focus magazine is a quarterly publication of the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) that provides up-to-date resources and information. As a top publication in our industry, DATIA focus features content on leading innovations, research, and current trends. The publication features in-depth articles that discuss trends, the effects of drugs, legal implications of drug and alcohol […]

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I’m There: Laron Nelson

June 19, 2017Drug Testing

Always racing against time, Laron Nelson, Technical Forensic Processor, greets thousands of packages with a smile and an eagerness to get them moving throughout our Lenexa, Kansas laboratory. He is part of the specimen processing team that must always work quickly and efficiently because our clients trust Quest to deliver timely, accurate drug test results. […]

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Mapping Drug Use in the U.S. Workforce

June 9, 2017Drug Testing

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 […]

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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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Employers Paying the Price of Substance Abuse

May 9, 2017Drug Testing

Substance abuse in the workplace is increasing. For the past several years, data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ has shown an increase in drug test positivity in the American workforce. We knew that employee drug use was costly to businesses in turnover, absenteeism, accidents, and insurance. However, the actual cost employers bear for […]

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An Exploration of Addiction: The Teen Years

May 5, 2017An Exploration of Addiction

Recreational drug and alcohol use is oftentimes perceived as harmless, non-habit-forming behavior. In reality millions suffer from substance-abuse disorders that surfaced under the mask of recreational use. In this installment of our Exploration of Addiction series, we examine how addiction can take hold when our brains are at their most vulnerable and when life is […]

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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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Side-Effects of Quitting Marijuana

April 20, 2017Drugs & Alcohol

April is a month when avid marijuana consumers, distributors, and marketers ramp up their efforts to reach audiences as they hype up the unofficial pot smoker’s holiday – 4/20. It’s possible that more first-time users will try the drug this year than in year’s past because of relaxing attitudes and increasing societal tolerance towards marijuana. […]

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