Jan 3, 2014 12:32 AM by Maddie Garrett

Drug Testing on the Rise, More Testing Positive for Marijuana

Amendment 64, legalizing marijuana, is causing ripple effects across Colorado, including who's getting drug tested and how often. The numbers are on the rise, from parents bringing their kids to get tested, to companies changing their drug testing policies.

But it's not just the number of new tests being done, labs say they're seeing more positive test results for marijuana than ever before, especially in young people.

Jo McGuire with Conspire, a lab in Colorado Springs, said they've seen a 30% increase in drug testing in the past year, and she only expects it to increase in the next year.

"It's been dramatic we've had to hire additional staff just to keep up," said McGuire.

McGuire said she believes it's a direct result of legalized marijuana.

"It really started right after the amendment was passed," she said.

Terra Runyan at Any Lab Test Now said she believes Amendment 64 is the reason more parents are bringing their kids in for drug tests.

"I've seen increases mostly in parents bringing their children in, just worried about with the new law and everything, it being more accessible I guess," explained Runyan.

McGuire said schools and parents are ordering more tests for teens, and a higher number are coming back positive. But more troublesome said McGuire, is that they're testing for higher levels of THC.

"A lot of the kids don't understand this is for 21 and older, so we're seeing an increase in use among young people," she said.

Fountain mom Monica Watson said the new law didn't change her views.

"I've always drug tested my kids, this really had no bearing on my parenting," she said.

While some parents don't think legal pot will make it any more available to teens than it has been, it seems more are starting to think like Watson.

"We know our kids friends, we know most of their parents, and you just never really know, your kids are not always going to be honest with you," she said.

It's not just kids testing positive for marijuana.

"Employers are definitely increasing their screenings, but we're having more employees coming in and test positive," said McGuire.

Both McGuire and Runyan said they think it's because most people don't understand some of the rules when it comes to marijuana use.

"Employees, who actually come in and say, well if we're positive for marijuana and it's legal what does that mean?" Runyan said is a common question.

It means they can still get fired or face some other consequence at work.

"In the work place, there is not a lot of understanding that the employer still has the strong right to maintain their drug testing and safe and drug free work place," McGuire added.

McGuire said many companies are asking how they can change their policies and start drug testing employees.

"More of them are shoring up their policies, making sure their policies include verbiage about marijuana," she said.

Because marijuana will stay in your system for weeks, there's no way of knowing when somebody used it. That's why many companies are struggling with the new law, and either have policies that state employees can't have it in their system at all, or employers are choosing simply to not drug test.

McGuire predicts that in the next year, they'll see more testing done in the work place and in schools, and more tests will show up positive for marijuana. When it comes to employers, she expects that some of the laws will be challenged in the years to come over recreational marijuana use.



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