Excerpted from a Yahoo Finance Post by Vandana Singh

Cheating on drug tests among American workers has surged to its highest level in over 30 years, according to a lab report from Quest Diagnostics Inc. The lab reported that approximately 31,000 out of 5.5 million drug tests showed signs of tampering in 2023.

Dr. Suhash Harwani, senior director of science for workforce health solutions at Quest, highlighted the lengths some individuals go to subvert the drug-testing process. The steady rate of positive drug tests, combined with an increase in tampering and varied marijuana laws across states, presents significant challenges for employers aiming to maintain drug-free workplaces.

Cheating methods range from substituting urine samples with synthetic or animal urine to using additives designed to mask drug use.

Quest reported a significant rise in tampered samples, with 6,000 classified as substituted, marking a sixfold increase from the previous year. Additionally, around 25,000 tests were deemed invalid due to the presence of these additives. Quest classifies substituted or invalid samples as failed drug tests, which can lead to job loss or disciplinary actions.

In 2023, Quest tested over 8.4 million urine samples, finding a 4.6% positive rate. Positive marijuana tests have driven this trend, with recreational use legal in two dozen states. About 4.5% of the tests in 2023 were flagged for marijuana usage, the highest figure for any drug, the Wall Street Journal noted, citing Quest, marginally more than the 4.3% in 2022 and up from 3.1% in 2019.

Amphetamines were the second-most flagged after marijuana, with a positivity rate of 1.5%, flat YoY. In 2019, the rate was 1.3%. The rate of positive marijuana tests was highest in states where recreational use is legal, reaching 5.8% in 2023. States without legal marijuana saw a lower rate of 3.3%. The Biden administration is considering reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I drug.

Human-resource professionals and staffing agencies are adapting policies to comply with varying state laws. Bill Ravenscroft, chief revenue officer at Employbridge, mentioned that some employers now avoid drug screening to ensure a consistent company-wide policy, especially in states like New York, where testing for marijuana is generally prohibited.

Chang noted the complexities for employers operating in multiple states, highlighting the need for adaptable drug-testing policies in the evolving legal landscape.

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