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Don't Believe Reports That Workforce Marijuana Use is 'Exploding'

With more and more states legalizing marijuana, you'll often see headlines about how many workers in America are using cannabis. But when you dig into the numbers, it really isn't worth talking about.

A new headline from Insider warns that "the number of people testing positive for marijuana in workplace drug tests is exploding." And that this number is particularly noticeable in the "safety-sensitive" workforce, which includes people who work in national security and other safety-related occupations. However, the so-called "exploding" increase in positive test-results is more of a blip.

Insider says that the amount of people in the workforce who are testing positive for marijuana increased 2.5 percent in 2016 to 2.6 percent in 2017. That's right. A 0.1 percent "explosion." That's not even statistically significant. That's basically a rounding error. And even the increase in marijuana positives among the so-called "safety-sensitive" workforce went from 0.78 percent in 2016 to 0.84 percent in 2017. That's literally an increase of 0.06 percent. 

It should also be noted that all these statistics come from one drug testing lab called Quest Diagnostics. And while Quest Diagnostics is the largest testing lab in the United States, it's not the only one. So when Insider says "43 percent of Nevada's workforce tested positive" for marijuana, what they really means if 43 percent of people in Nevada tested by Quest Diagnostics tested positive for marijuana. So this doesn't include data from any other drug testing labs in Nevada, or take into account the number of workers in the state who do not get tested for drugs. I mean, how many businesses in Las Vegas are actually going to test their employees for illicit substances?

So while there is data suggesting more Americans are using marijuana thanks to legalization, don't assume that everyone working a job involving safety is probably high as a kite and putting your life at risk.

(h/t Insider)


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