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Some are failing workplace marijuana tests after legally buying and using CBD products

Workplace drug tests show higher positivity rates for marijuana and other drugs.

TEXAS, USA — The game of "musical cubicles" continues. In the first three months of this year here in Texas, 1,226,000 workers quit their jobs. But 1,818,000 people were hired for jobs. And even after all that shuffling around, the latest figure says there are another 985,000 job openings in Texas that still need to be filled.

Beware the employment drug test

If you are planning to seek one of those new positions, beware of the employment drug test. Those are snagging a number of people. Here’s the headline from Quest Diagnostics: Workforce Drug Test Positivity Climbs to Highest Level in Two Decades.

The company conducted 11 million drug screenings for employers last year. Compared to 2020, last year they found the rate of positive test results went up 26.4% for methamphetamines, up 46.6% for cocaine, and up 20.3% for marijuana.

Since marijuana has been legalized in many states, some employers have stopped testing for it. But even in places where marijuana is legal, if an employer mandates a marijuana test, an employee or prospective employee can lose a job because of a positive marijuana test. Laws and protections vary from state to state and even from one job position to another.

Failing a marijuana test, even after not using marijuana?

Some people complain of losing out on a job or a job opportunity after failing a drug test for marijuana, even though they haven’t technically used marijuana. Some say they tested positive after using CBD products they legally purchased in a store. Many of those products come from a version of the cannabis plant called hemp. Hemp has much lower concentrations of THC, the compound in marijuana that makes you high. Growing hemp is legal in Texas. In fact, the state agriculture commissioner’s smiling face welcomes you to website of the Texas Industrial Hemp Program, which was touted as a big lucrative new industry for Texas farmers. 

Well, it turns out that hemp can be used to make a synthetic version of THC called delta-8 THC, which can make you high. The state considers that a drug and wants to ban it. But since it comes from the legal hemp plant and is slightly different from delta-9 THC found in cannabis, the issue has been tied up in the courts, which have blocked the state ban as the legal case proceeds.

Legalities aside though, most workplace drug tests don’t tell the difference between the THC that comes from delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC, so that creates challenges in testing and either can cause a failed drug screening.

Searchable map for workplace drug test results

Quest Diagnostics has a tool where you can search by groups of ZIP Codes where you can see the positivity rate for different classes of drugs. In 2021, Texas had a higher positivity rate than the national average when workers were tested for heroin, cocaine, and opiates. But Texas was below the national average for some other drugs, including marijuana.

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