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More Working Americans Testing Positive for Drug Use

It appears that American drug use is once again on the rise. New numbers from Quest Diagnostics, a clinical testing company based in Madison, NJ, show workplace tests are finding drug use at levels not seen in a decade. Last year, 4.2 percent of drug tests conducted on employees or job applicants came back positive. It’s the highest rate since 2004.

For workers who are required to undergo drug tests, including certain federal employees, pilots, bus drivers and oil pipeline workers, the positive rate was 2 percent. For the general workforce, the rate was 4.9 percent. In Colorado, where marijuana has been broadly legal for five years, companies have been dropping it from drug tests. Still, Quest’s overall 4.2 percent positivity rate for last year is markedly lower than it was when the company issued its first report, back in 1988, when it was 13.6 percent. The numbers could reflect Americans’ shifting attitudes toward drugs.

Approximately half of U.S. employers screen for drug use, and failed tests often result in suspensions, firings and, ultimately, a loss of productivity and revenue.

Increases in Cocaine and Marijuana, Encouraging Results for Heroin and Prescription Opiates

This year’s Quest results showed increased rates of drug positivity for the most commonly used illicit drugs in America. The positivity rate of cocaine increased for a fourth consecutive year in the U.S., reaching a 7-year high in 2016.

In oral fluid testing, marijuana positivity rates increased to 8.9 percent in 2016 among the general workforce, which is a near 75 percent spike from 2013. The positivity rate for marijuana use also increased in urine testing and hair testing from 2015-2016. These increases were even more pronounced in Colorado and Washington, the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Despite the highs in positive drug tests among American workers, Quest Diagnostic’s report was not without some good news. Following four consecutive years of increases in heroin drug testing positivity rates, in 2016, use of the deadly drug remained steady. Additionally, prescription opioid (which includes hydrocodone, oxycodone and hydromorphone among many others) positivity rates in urine tests declined among the general workforce.

A Bergen County Lawyer Can Defend You from Drug Crimes

In addition to the damage drug use has on your health and the impact national drug use has on our economy and healthcare systems, it also is illegal and will lead to fines and/or incarceration. If you’ve been arrested for possession of marijuana, you may be facing anywhere from six months in jail and a $1,000 fine to a decade in prison and $150,000 in fines. The penalties for crimes involving heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other controlled dangerous substances are even steeper.

New Jersey residents charged with a drug crime are in serious trouble and would be wise to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Criminal defense attorney Frank T. Luciano has successfully represented dozens of people charged with possession and/or distribution in Hackensack, Paterson, Jersey City and throughout all areas of Northern New Jersey. If you’ve been charged, your next action should be to contact Mr. Luciano at 973-471-0004 for an initial consultation and to begin discussing your best defense strategies.

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From a former investigator of a county prosecutor’s office and retired private investigator

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