U.S. Workers Use Cannabis More, but Opiates Less

Reefer Madness prohibitionists are clinging to a new report detailing how more workers in the United States are using cannabis than ever before to criticize the passage of medical and legalization laws. In actuality, the report has great news contained in it and it demonstrates that most employers don’t need to prohibit cannabis use off the job, a growing trend among American employers.

As The Wall Street Journal reported:

“The percentage of working Americans testing positive for drugs climbed last year, particularly for marijuana, according to a new report, indicating employee drug use was on the rise just as the coronavirus pandemic created new stresses.

“Overall, the proportion of U.S. workers who tested positive for drugs in urine in 2019 rose to 4.5%, the highest level in 16 years, according to Quest Diagnostics Inc., one of the largest drug-testing laboratories in the U.S., which analyzed approximately nine million tests last year of employers.

“But the greatest jump has been in workers testing positive for marijuana, which climbed 11% in 2019 in the general workforce from the year before and 29% since 2015. In that four-year span, the number of states that legalized marijuana for recreational use grew to 11 from four, plus the District of Columbia.”

It’s positive news that the use of some dangerously fatal drugs has actually decreased the last few years. The use of more addictive and potentially fatal narcotics such as opiates fell 19 percent in 2019 from the year before and 49 percent since 2015. Usage rates for heroin dropped by a third from 2018 and halved since its peak in 2015. As NPR reported, opiate use has decreased in states that have legalized medicinal cannabis.

Also, fewer employers are actually testing for cannabis. Across the nation, 3% fewer employers are checking for cannabis while that number rose to 6% in states that have fully legalized cannabis. With drug tests recognizing inactive metabolites, instead of whether someone is actually impaired, it’s time that more employers stop this discriminatory practice, especially in non-safety-sensitive jobs. It’s great that we have stopped arresting and prosecuting cannabis in legal states, but it is important that employment fairness laws get enacted as well.

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