(WTAJ) – As marijuana becomes more legalized across the country a recent study shows it’s also increasing positive results for the drug from job screenings.
Employment agencies, who are already seeing labor shortage are saying this is another obstacle they have to navigate. Research from the Wall Street Journal shows there were more positive tests in 2022 than any other year since Bill Clinton was president.
Local agencies are speaking out about the increase in results. With laws constantly changing and the drug becoming more widely culturally accepted, it’s becoming a challenging situation. The companies that these agencies serve will have to make big financial and safety-related decisions.
The Wall Street Journal study shows, out of more than 6,000,000 marijuana screenings from quest diagnostics, 4.3% came back positive last year. That’s the largest positivity rate since 1997.
For tests following an on-the-job accident, the positivity rate nearly doubled. Worklink Staffing in Ebensburg tells me they’ve never had a positive post-accident result for marijuana, but they do their own onboarding screening. Owner Domenic DeYulis tells me those positive results are increasing.
“Before medical marijuana was legal, we probably saw about one of every five employees test non-negative for marijuana,” DeYulis said. “Today, we probably see about one of every three. But, we’ve also seen probably 75% of those marijuana results also including a medical marijuana card.”
That’s why they recently changed their policy. Applicants must have a medical card if they test non-negative, and they can’t be using it during work hours.
Manpower doesn’t do their own screening, it’s up to the companies they serve to decide if tests are necessary. But how do they decide?
“Now there’s an “I don’t know” tolerance,” Brock Kull, Vice President and Managing Director of Manpower in Altoona said. “I just don’t know, and nobody else knows really where this is going to end and how we can make sure that everyone’s working safely and productively.”
Kull says some of their clients aren’t testing for it anymore with the shifting cultural norms and the worker shortage. Others have a tolerance for a certain amount. But where do you draw the line?
“We’re having anywhere from brand new employees to employees that have been with us for years that are ending up testing positive,” Kull said “How do you make a decision based upon that if they’ve been productive, but you didn’t know?”
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Kull says he meets with other manpower franchise owners twice a year and in their conversations, even in the states where recreational marijuana is legal, they’ve realized there just isn’t a concrete solution yet. However, the emphasis right now is safety for everyone at the workplace.