Maine has some of the highest rates in the nation of workers who test positive for drugs.
According to recent numbers released by the testing service Quest Diagnostics, about 6 percent of workers tested in Maine had positive results last year. That ranks only below Oregon, but is similar to other New England states.
Amanda O’Leary, with the Maine Department of Labor, said the numbers are comparable to what her department has seen in surveys. O’Leary said she’s not sure why Maine’s rates are so high, but she said the legalization of recreational marijuana and the opioid crisis may have played a role over the past few years.
“Right around that time was when we were having the biggest problem with the opioid crisis, absolutely,” O’Leary said.
State data show that last year 90 percent of positive tests were due to cannabinoids. O’Leary said the legalization of marijuana in Maine three years ago has presented challenges to some employers who want to ban its use in the workplace. Because marijuana stays in the system, an employee may test positive for the drug without using it at work. O’Leary said some companies have stopped testing for the drug or are changing how they test.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.