Positive Marijuana Drug Tests in Colorado Jump 20 Percent with Legalization


Positive tests for pot have increased by about 20 percent in Colorado from 2012 to 2013, according to Quest Diagnostics, a company responsible for a huge number of work-related drug testing across the country.
But the director of the drug testing branch of Quest says it’s too early to draw any conclusions from the data, though it’s easy to draw a parallel between the increase in positive pot tests and the legalization limited amounts of pot to adults 21 and up. Sales of cannabis to adults didn’t start until January of 2014, so that would not factor into the data.

The information was gleaned from more than 100,000 drug tests, according to Barry Sample, director of science and technology for “employer solutions”. Sample told the Fort Collins Coloradoan that the number of tests hasn’t really increased, either. He says they’ve tested more than 100,000 people annually since about 2005.
Sample also said that he hasn’t seen any proof that employers are changing their stance on pot, and the results of their snapshot data survey might be reflective of that.
It’s important to remember that the tests don’t equate to people being stoned on the job by any means. Since cannabis metabolites can stay in your system for weeks after use, the positive tests can easily come from off-work, weekend use of an otherwise legal substance.
Of course, business “leaders” don’t want you to know that. Sandra Hagen Solin, a business lobbyist in Colorado, says those tests raise questions of how impaired someone might be at work. They don’t, but she’s pushing it. Sample doesn’t help, he says that those who test positive for pot weeks after use are “proverbial pothead[s]”, or those who “habitually” use, implying the tests he actively sells and markets and needs to increase to keep his investors happy would be a good measure.
But if being impaired at work were the issue, we would hear more about the legions of stoned workers grinding the Colorado ecomony to a halt. We aren’t, though. So if the problem isn’t an increase of stoned workers, what is it?
“It would appear the only thing that’s actually causing harm to people is these companies’ drug testing policies, not employees using marijuana in their off hours,” Mason Tvert, Denver-based communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Coloradoan. “If an employee is using marijuana on the job, or their marijuana use is harming their performance, that’s one thing. But it’s an entirely different thing to fire a good employee for using marijuana in their free time. Really, these are just businesses that are going to lose talent.”
Colorado law allows for adults 21 and up to cultiave and use limited amounts of cannabis, but it does not stop employers from enacting anti-cannabis policies and firing people for off-work use. A group of Colorado activists have challenged that idea with the state Supreme Court. Their case follows the ruling of a DISH Network Employee who was fired from his job in 2012 for off-work medical use of cannabis. A judge initially ruled in favor of DISH, but the DISH employee appealed his case all the way to the state supreme court.
So Colorado activist Kathleen Chippi and the Colorado Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project have filed an amicus to preempt that decision with an argument for making cannabis use a right that cannot be trumped by federal law.
From the PCRLP release, an amicus is “A way to introduce concerns ensuring that the possibly broad legal affects of a court decision will not depend solely on the parties directly involved in the case. Amicus brings new perspective into an existing case. It’s acceptance lies solely on the discretion court. The PCRLP amicus has been accepted by the court.”
Which is a good sign, Chippi says.
“Patient and caregiver defense attorneys across the nation and specifically here in Coats v Dish, continue to concede to federal pre-emption and concede patients/caregivers have no right to MMJ when there is no case law that clarifies that,” she wrote in a release accompanying the PCRLP fundraising page.
“This ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court will stand as the law of the land in Colorado and will be cited as case law nationally in future court cases. The PCRLP could not allow the courts to rule against patients’ rights and or federal preemption without a legal fight.
To learn more about the fight for patient/user rights, visit the PCRLP’s Fundly site.