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Cannabis Fail Rates Rise Substantially for Workers in Recreational-Use States

Newly released data show that trucking and other federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforces in the U.S. are showing increases of positive marijuana tests in states that have enacted recreational use statues.

Positivity rates for marijuana were most striking in states that have enacted recreational use statues since 2016. The increases in marijuana positivity for safety-sensitive workers increased by 39 percent in Nevada, 20 percent in California, and 11 percent in Massachusetts.

“These increases are similar to the increases we observed after recreational marijuana use statues were passed in Washington and Colorado,” said Barry Sample, PhD, senior director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics.

The data is a summary of a recent report compiled from 10 million U.S. drug tests conducted by Quest Diagnostics, a large medical lab. Many of Quest Diagnostics’ clients have safety-sensitive workforces that have federally required drug testing, including pilots, bus and truck drivers.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Trucking Alliance has been tracking the experience in a number of US states that have already legalized cannabis use as potential indicators for what might be in store for Canada. While some have argued the impacts of legalizing cannabis in Canada will be minimal, the experience of many US states points to the contrary.

This has lead CTA and other employer groups to call on government to send employers – especially those with workers in safety-sensitive positions – a clear signal on what’s expected post-legalization. There has also been a strong call for the federal government to introduce measures that would allow for random testing for those that work in safety sensitive positions.

“CTA has maintained that if risk is to be downloaded to employers as a result of legalization, then we need the necessary tools to help mitigate that risk,” says CTA director of policy and public affairs, Jonathon Blackham.

As part of the Senate Committee deliberations on Bill C-45, the topic of random testing and the potential impact of legalization on employers has been a topic of much debate. While some Senate Committees have recommended that implementation be delayed for at least one year, the federal government appears committed to its stated timeline sometime this summer.

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