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More Job Applicants Failing Employer Drug Tests

In the last two years, the number of job applicants failing employer required drug screen urine tests has increased by 5.7 percent. While this represents an increase in apparent drug use, it must be put into perspective. In the first six months of 2012, approximately 3.4 million urine drug screening tests were submitted to labs for analysis, of which only around 2 percent of them resulted in positive results for the use of marijuana. The results for all other drugs tested for was even lower.

The drug that registered second in occurrence among job seekers was amphetamines. Approximately 0.86 of all job applicants tested positive for its use during the same time period. These statistics were released by the medical laboratory research company Quest.

These test results were released at a time when there is increasing public dialogue about drug use and especially about the use of marijuana. With a clear majority of U.S. residents now supporting marijuana legalization, two states, Washington and Colorado, have already legalized marijuana use for recreational purposes, while still restricting its use.

Quest said that the figures it had developed following its 25 years of involvement in the drug testing industry showed no relationship between the amount of drug use and decriminalization or legalization measures. This contradicts the position of the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which strenuously argues that legalization would be accompanied by greatly expanded drug use.

Many employers still insist on a drug free workforce despite marijuana legalization efforts and the large number of state that have legalized medical marijuana. Last fall, a Michigan appeals court upheld the right of Walmart as an employer to fire an employee who was legally prescribed medical marijuana to alleviate the painful impact of his inoperable brain tumor. Marijuana is still considered an illegal drug under federal law, regardless of the details of state law.