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The Fall of Workforce Drug Testing

One of the first nonsensical wars declared by the United States government was the War on Drugs – nonsensical because nations declare war on each other, not abstract concepts. This was truly brilliant marketing spin-doctoring because the nation was, in fact, deluged with illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, and crystal meth (speed). These drugs can really mess a person up, physically and mentally, no question about it. Having an employee operating heavy machinery with a buzz does not meet OSHA standards.

The War on Drugs led to the development of the emergent multi-million dollar drug testing industry in the late 1970s after returning Vietnam veterans were found to test positive for all sorts of illicit substances.

President Reagan, in fact, “instituted an executive order mandating that all federal agencies implement a drug testing policy for their employees. This executive order would be the inspiration for later private employer drug testing.”

Two related pieces of congressional legislature aimed at detecting and eliminating drug-using employees soon followed: the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. These new laws further expanded workplace drug testing to Federal contractors.

Then, all Department of Transportation (DOT) truck drivers had to submit to pre-employment drug testing with the passing of the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991.

All this drug-screening activity did indeed increase workplace productivity while reducing injuries and Workers’ Compensation claims. Results were so positive that some states like New York made new Code Rules that compensate businesses which maintain certified employee drug testing programs by reducing their Workers’ Comp rates by 2-10 percent.

However, the workforce drug testing tide is turning. One of the drugs commonly tested for is marijuana. In the 1980s, pot was illegal everywhere in the U.S. Today, recreational-use MJ is legal in nine states and medical MJ is legal in 30 states – more than half! The general public now favors federal legalization of this ridiculously misclassed Schedule 1 narcotic.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) claims that the big problem with testing employees for marijuana use is that “urinalysis does not detect whether someone is impaired or under the influence of drugs, rather it detects the presence of non-psychoactive drug metabolites, that may linger in the system days or weeks after use.”

At least one healthcare provider understands what that means. Excellence Health Inc. in Las Vegas, Nevada, stopped workplace drug tests in 2018 for its nearly 6,000 employees working in pharmaceutical departments. Liam Meyer represented the pro-4th Amendment corporate attitude: “We don’t care what people do in their free time. We want to help these people, instead of saying: ‘Hey, you can’t work for us because you used a substance.'” The company provides an employee help-with-drugs hotline service as a benefit.

The Denver Post stopped workplace drug testing in September 2017 for employees whose jobs don’t require safety precautions. In February 2018, AutoNation Inc. changed its employee drug policy from zero-tolerance to considering applicants who test positive for pot.

This marked change in corporate human relations (HR) and safety policies is not merely the consequence of softening public opinion about marijuana. Certain industries are having trouble finding enough qualified workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test. Steve Staub of Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Ohio made this point very clear at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in January 2018. Despite a boom in manufacturing since Trump’s inauguration a year earlier, Ohio has not been able to keep up with demand. The reason might surprise you. According to Staub:

“In Ohio alone, they have about 20,000 available jobs in manufacturing. In Dayton, Ohio, where I’m from, we have about 4,000 jobs available today in manufacturing that we can’t fill. We can’t get people to pass a drug test.”

Along with manufacturing, finance and IT (computers) have also been hard-pressed to recruit substance-negative talent. Even James Comey, former FBI director, quipped in 2014 about his bureau’s need to attract better-qualified candidates by re-examining its long-standing drug-testing policy

The combination of a national shortage of qualified workers and increasing open-mindedness about recreational and medical drug use has led to a quiet devolution away from the unconstitutional search of a person’s body and toward a legal and common-sense approach to hiring.

As James Reidy, HR policy attorney put it:

“Employers are really strapped and saying ‘We’re going to forgive certain things.'”

This is especially excellent news for anyone who has lost a job (or employment opportunity) due to a false-positive drug test. These happen all the time but get little press. As far back as a 2010 article from WebMD, research showed: “Drug tests generally produce false-positive results in 5% to 10% of cases and false negatives in 10% to 15% of cases.”

Naturally, some jobs will always require worker drug testing. But blanket employee drug testing is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

About LightWorker111

Jean has been a lead contributor to, and several other online publications since September 2017 with over 350 articles in print. She is also a popular guest on paranormal podcasts like "Paraversal Universe" and "Paranormal Experienced." A practiced mystic and spiritual seeker with advanced degrees in computers, psychology and education, Jean is dedicated to exposing conspiracies, cover-ups, suppressed sources, and occult knowledge. Her beat ranges from ufology to politics, finance, technology, arts – and more. Jean has published her first eBook! Find out why you must be crazy not to believe in UFOS! Unknown Objects - The Top Ten U.S. UFO Cases Visit to explore Jean’s SHAREspace cyber forum for paranormal topics. Contact [email protected] for further dialog.


  1. I’m shocked that Conservative Mom would post such a poorly written, self-contradicting piece of trash. I almost stopped reading during the first paragraph due to the ridiculous contradictions and the lack of understanding of the term “war”. Throughout history wars have been waged on a plethora of ideals, books, religious beliefs etc. To think it can only be waged on “nations” is narrow mindedness to an extreme.

    I agree that testing for marijuana prior to hiring for most jobs is no longer needed, but testing for ALL other mind-altering drugs is still not only a good idea, but should continue to be required. A help line only helps those who call, not the 99% who don’t but generally need it most. Use of drugs on a job should still be a reason for termination as even non medical use of marijuana alters thought patterns and response times while other drugs like heroin can render an individual unable to function.

    Not halfway through the article, the author, Jean B., fails to clarify that the companies that are stopping or changing their drug testing policies are only halting testing for marijuana not other drugs. America should never tolerate drug use by individuals while they work on any job, but recreational marijuana use on an individuals own time shouldn’t be anyone else’s business.

    In the future could there be a sensitive enough testing method by which a current employer could determine if an individual is using drugs while working? Possibly by the amount of THC and / or CBD in a persons blood? I don’t know. We’ll leave that one to the scientists.

  2. Unfortunately failing to test for drugs is an invitation to DANGEROUS employees and loss of businesses that have strong requirements for sobriety; CO has lost many because they could NOT meet the demands of OSHA and COSH for sobriety and the state law allowing recreational use of pot! Moreover, they’re hemorrhaging medical personnel due to exorbitant insurance rates which are caused by the fact that pot and other drugs make the practice of medicine much more suit prone due to narrowing the safety margin for using all other analgesics, anesthesias and the like, coupled with failure to disclose, resulting in suits not really the practitioners’ faults. Is this what we need nationwide? I really don’t believe so, not to mention having a permanently stoned population driving and such in general.

  3. you mean all we need to do was drug test the big “O”?

  4. People who smoke pot shouldn’t do it at work…but I think the employers can tell if they do without testing. For one thing you can smell it on them. We need to legalize it and get on with living.

  5. Disappointing article, missed the point completely, shame.
    The best way to curtail drug use is to defund it, if a guy can’t get a job because he was tested positive on a drug test he might think twice before doing drugs again, however if he is accepted he not only won’t stop but he will have more money to buy it.

    • Most drugs can’t be detected 24-48 hours after use. Marijuana can be detected up to a month after use. How many people would be fired if alcohol use, say a beer after work or on the weekend, could be detected for weeks after it was consumed! The FDA needs to develop a test that is based on level of drug in the system not just its presence. Just like a breathalyzer for alcohol.

  6. How to spot BS in a written article:

    ” returning Vietnam veterans were found to test positive for all sorts of illicit substances.”

    “All this drug-screening activity did indeed increase workplace productivity while reducing injuries and Workers’ Compensation claims”

    “Certain industries are having trouble finding enough qualified workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test. ”

    Actually, what really happened after decades of research is the that cost of drug testing was more than the any cost savings. And the world is not full of numerous scary drug users lurking around every corner….

    but yeah for the constitution right to privacy!

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