Mar 30, 2022 - Economy

Positive drug tests for U.S. workers hit highest level since 2001

A farmer inspecting a cannabis plant in a greenhouse near Watsonville, California, on March 5.

A farmer inspecting a cannabis plant in a greenhouse near Watsonville, Calif., on March 5. Photo: David Odisho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Positive drug tests among U.S. workers hit the highest level since 2001 last year, according to an analysis released Wednesday by Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest drug-testing laboratories in the country.

Why it matters: The increase in the rate of positive results from an all-time low between 2010 and 2012 was partially driven by an increase in positive marijuana tests, likely reflecting the fact that the number of states that have legalized it for both medical and recreational use has grown since then.

By the numbers: Quest Diagnostics' analysis was based on 11 million drug test results collected between January and December 2021.

  • The overall positivity rate last year was up to 4.6% from 4.4% in 2020 and up 31.4% from the all-time low of 3.5% between 2010 and 2012.
  • Positivity rates for marijuana in more than 6 million urine tests increased from 0.79% in 2020 to 0.86% in 2021, an increase of 8.9%.
  • Positive results for cocaine use increased 5% from 0.20% in 2020 to 0.21% in 2021.

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