More workers are too high to get hired

Positive tests in pre-employment screening have risen 5.7% since 2007. Will states with legalized marijuana see higher numbers?

By Jason Notte Mar 11, 2013 9:54AM
A medicinal marijuana user smokes at the Berkeley Patients Group in Berkeley, Calif., on March 25, 2010 (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)The unemployment rate dropped to 7.7% in February as the economy added 236,000, but a vast segment of the American population is eager to add to those numbers and get back to work.

Unfortunately, some of them are too high to do anything about it.

Say what you will about workers dropping out of the workforce, a growing population is shifting employment percentages and other factors that contribute to the nation's "real" unemployment numbers. A study by The Huffington Post and drug screening company Quest Diagnostics suggests the number of Americans who remain unemployed simply because they couldn't pass a drug screening has increased 5.7% since 2007.

This information comes just as two states -- Colorado and Washington -- deal with the repercussions of legalizing recreational marijuana use and as employers in each area determine how best to cope with their workers' off-the-clock usage. Pot is the drug most commonly detected in employees' urine, but it's hardly widespread. It showed up in only 68,000 of the 3.4 million drug tests conducted last year. Nearly 25,000 applicants tested positive for meth, the second-most-popular drug on the list.

Colorado's Amendment 64 already allows employers to ban marijuana in the workplace and implement policies restricting their employees' cannabis use. While an anti-discrimination law prevents them from firing workers for legal, off-duty activities, businesses can still terminate employees if that activity affects their work performance.

Interestingly, Quest has been compiling data on workplace drug tests for 25 years and has found no correlation yet between states that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use and positivity rates for pre-employment drug tests. As the company notes, employers can still create a drug-free work environment independent of state law.

That became clear in September, when an appeals court ruled that a Wal-Mart (WMT) in Battle Creek, Mich., had the legal right to fire an employee who was prescribed medical marijuana for his cancer and inoperable brain tumor. Applicants who test positive for marijuana also have any potential arguments undermined by federal law, which still considers marijuana illegal.

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Mar 11, 2013 2:31PM
What a strange country we live in. It's deemed perfectly normal for half the population to take Prozac in order to get through the day, but heaven forbid we smoke some pot once in a while. 
Mar 11, 2013 11:45AM
Elected officials and CEOs should be drug tested just like anyone else. Same should apply to their never ending entitlement via the middle-class. We earn the profits, they take them away.
Mar 11, 2013 11:17AM
We should be able to test the dirtbags on welfare too.
Mar 11, 2013 10:41AM
Many company drug tests also screen for alcohol; if there was a tracer put in alcoholic beverages that flagged consumption for days or weeks post-facto, HR departments would have revolving doors, and pink-slip manufacturers would be working overtime.
Mar 11, 2013 3:12PM
It's because way more companies seem to be drug testing.  I can understand drug testing to operate a crane, or drive a truck, but to answer phones or file paperwork in an office or to stock shelves in a supermarket?  Just seems like a useless invasion of privacy to me. 
Mar 11, 2013 3:20PM
I don't agree. I think what people do recreationally during their off hours from work is their business. If a person who is drug free but an alcoholic his urine test doesn't show up positive for alcohol but if a Mj smoker shows up for work a week after smoking he still tests positive for MJ. In Colorado they are setting the threshold for intoxication at 5 mg. That's absurd. If you don't smoke for three days your level is still at 5mg. Its unfair really because MJ never affected my performance on the job. I only smoked on my time rather than at work. No better than anyone who drinks. I remember an associate who drank like a fish at lunchtime. He never was called on it because mgt didn't want to cause a problem. Yet if I came in stoned I would be fired. Federal law and state law need to come to some kind of compromise because it isn't going away. More states will legalize it because the voters want to legalize MJ for no other reason than its harmless.
Mar 11, 2013 3:27PM
From what I've seen lately of the employees at places like Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Lowe's, I ask myself  "and these are the ones that passed a drug test"? 
Mar 11, 2013 10:17AM
 Guessing they are either un-employment or some type of welfare. If they make enough to buy drugs then they need to be removed from from the gov't dole. Sad cases.
Drug testing is the biggest crock of crap that has ever been shoved up everyone's butt.  Every other loser goes out after work, drinks till their head caves in, and shows up the next morning hung over.  I go home smoke a little weed, show up to work the next day, no hangover, ready to go, but oh no, go take a piss test and boom you lost your job.  What a joke.
Mar 11, 2013 10:20AM
I doesn't surprise me one bit that Mary Jane use is up. If you consider that the Congress and president doesn't give a rip about Americans anymore,except the ones that mooch,then vote. Their attitude definitely rubs off on others.The war on drugs is just a sham,anyway. Look,we can't even enforce the borders,so how do we control drug usage in the first place? Colorado and Washington states have spent too much police effort to stop drug users,and they just caved in and said ok. Other states will follow in the near future. Chicago's gang violence is fueled by crack cocaine,and that can't be stopped.either. Until the police have te power to "clean up the streets",we will have criminals dominating inner city society. There is no stopping it.
Mar 11, 2013 10:37AM
Rush L. makes millions for telling lies and loves his pain killers.
Mar 11, 2013 11:43AM
Most drug testing programs are a joke anyway, conducted simply to get lower insurance rates and all they do is catch casual pot smokers.  The people taking serious drugs rarely get caught because the drugs flush out too easily.  That said, being stoned on the job is not acceptable and with some states legalizing it, a new problem is created.
Mar 11, 2013 10:14AM
This has always been BS ! Drug testing is a joke . Its just a shame that America and Americans put up with this ! I took one to get hired and passed ! But was told to go take one two yrs latter and i leaked in the cup but this time i did not sign the release form and went back to work ! 20 minutes latter i was called into the office and told to sign the paper , i laughed and said i will not ! I took one to get hired ? And passed and i see no reason to sign the release form now ! They could not fire me because i was right ! Once i was hired , they could not force me to sign a paper and hold my job over my head !  They thought they could but its the law. Cannot force me to sign a paper against my will ! I was already hired ! that was the catch 22 ...You got to to take one to get a job, but not after your hired ! I still work there today...
Mar 11, 2013 11:15AM
Sounds like this article was written to write off the remaining 7.8% unemployed (which we all know is a lot higher than that) as drug users unable to work. So, the real unemployment rate is less than 1%. Good, glad we have that everyone please put your money back in the stock market....they are ready to for the final shearing.
Mar 11, 2013 12:26PM

We have: More workers too high to get hired. AND. Bosses say US workers fall short on key skills.


Aren't both of these articles about the same thing? FIRE the current hired-in executives and human resources personnel and REHIRE the last known ones that could-- hire correctly and reinforce skills as a component of the job, as well as train for competence. Aren't these articles flat out saying: let's get rid of the psychopaths in charge? YES THEY ARE. If all we needed in life was to buy a degree or two and live delusionally thereafter... we wouldn't be in a 21st Century Great Depression, would we? 

Mar 11, 2013 3:07PM
Your never to hired to get high!  I mean ^^&%^%$.
Mar 11, 2013 10:50AM
Time to break out the airplane glue.
Mar 11, 2013 3:11PM

I also believe they should test or screen welfare recipients, cut their goddamn checks if all they want to do is sit around get high or drunk everyday...

And I have believed this for a long time, because MOST refuse to get help to quit, or control the problems...


"Any man who thinks they can be Happy and Prosperous, by letting the Government take care of them; Better take a closer look at the American Indian....Henry Ford.

Mar 11, 2013 4:45PM
 Stop smoking the pot, and take care of yourself through working hard and being reliable

I know of people who smoke and are very hard-working and reliable, whereas a drinker, well they like to call in sick on Mondays or after the Super Bowl. Take a 3 day weekend. I'd trust a pot smoker more than a drinker. Only because I've worked with these people who DRINK too much. And I'd never call in sick, go ahead trust someone who drinks. 
Mar 11, 2013 3:52PM
Hire these people at Banks,.big banks launder drug money and get a slap on the wrist one of their perks can be they get to sniff the money when it comes in.
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