Last year, the United States was affected by a two-decade peak in workers testing positive for drug use. The rise is driven by rising numbers of positive marijuana tests.
49% of American workers are experiencing alcohol or some other substance use disorder, with alcohol being the most common harmful substance among American workers.

2021 data from Quest Diagnostics Inc, one of the largest drug-testing laboratories in the United States show a two-decade high among American workers who tested positive for drugs. The increase is driven by rising positive marijuana tests.

Last year Quest analyzed nearly nine million urine tests on behalf of employers. They uncovered that,

  • U.S. workers who tested positive for various drugs increased to 4.6%, the highest level since 2001.
    • This level is over 31% higher than the rate of 3.5% a decade ago.
    • This rate is a rise from the 4.4% in 2020.

Quest analyzed ca. six million employee urine tests for marijuana, and found that,

Fewer employers are now testing for marijuana. According to Quest, employers were finding it difficult to get qualified workers to pass the marijuana test. Companies in some federal states have been barred from factoring in marijuana test results in hiring, specifically in states which legalized psycjoactive marijuana use. The pandemic has also affected staffing and led employers to weaken marijuana-free test requirements.

However, there are still companies strongly maintaining the marijuana-free test requirement. For example, Houston-based staffing and recruiting firm Link Staffing Services Inc. still maintains the requirement and thinks cutting off THC screening is not a good solution to pandemic-related job market issues.

Health harm due to cannabis

A growing base of evidence shows cannabis use is harmful to health. Despite this evidence, both Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco have invested in Big Marijuana – adding to the portfolio of harmful products these companies already manufacture. Companies that have invested in Big Marijuana include Altria, Constellation Brands, Molson Coors Brewing, and AB InBev.

Meanwhile, as Movendi International previously reported more and more workers have been experiencing alcohol and other substance use problems during the pandemic. Versta Research conducted the 2020 Behavioral Health Pandemic Impact study on behalf of The Standard, surveying 1,425 full-time employees in the U.S. and found:

  • 49% of American workers were experiencing alcohol or some other substance use disorder,
  • 36% of workers report their alcohol and substance use problems are affecting their work more since the coronavirus broke out, and
  • Alcohol is the most common harmful substance used among American workers.
American workers experience alcohol or other substance use disorder
49% of surveyed American workers are experiencing alcohol or other substance use disorder, according to the 2020 Behavioral Health Pandemic Impact study.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a vulnerable time for many people in the United States. Apart from the fear of being infected, people have had to deal with increased stress and anxieties, including job loss, pay cuts, loss of routines, changing workplace structures, managing work from home, and increased childcare and/ or eldercare responsibilities.

The alcohol industry used this time of heightened vulnerability to push alcohol as a coping tool through aggressive marketing, thus driving higher sales and profits for the industry at the cost of people’s health. For example, a landmark report by the NCD Alliance and the SPECTRUM Research Consortium exposed how the alcohol industry exploited the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis as the largest global marketing campaign. In addition to aggressive marketing tactics, Big Alcohol also exploits the pandemic to push their deregulation agenda to weaken alcohol policy.


Partnership to End Addiction: “Percentage of U.S. Workers Testing Positive for Substances Highest in Two Decades

The Wall Street Journal: “Positive Drug Tests Among U.S. Workers Hit Two-Decade High