We are at record low unemployment and help wanted ads are everywhere from the CIA to the local bodega. Employers are talking about how to do the same (or more) with less people. And with it, norms have changed when it comes to hiring. The percentage of jobs requiring pre-employment drug tests is now lower than 2%. In fact, only one city in America has a percentage of jobs higher than 2.4%. In Arlington, TX, almost 7% of the jobs available require a pre-employment drug screening. New York City had the lowest percentage of jobs in the country requiring a pre-employment drug test.
The most common drug test is the urine test. These tests indicate if one or more prescription or illegal drugs are present. They test detect the presence of drugs such as marijuana, ethanol, cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine, amphetamines, PCP, benzodiazepine, barbiturates, methadone, tricyclic antidepressants, ecstasy, and oxycodone.
According to Scott Rabinowitz, partner with national search firm Herd Freed Hartz, “ Drug testing as part of the executive hiring process, especially for cannabis, is no longer private industry standard, especially in states where cannabis is legal. In 25 years of executive search experience across multiple industries I have only encountered one private company that relied on testing for THC as part of their hiring decision.”
While some professions like pilots, surgeons, dentists, nurses, physicians, school buses drivers, etc., require the applicant to be focused and clear headed, others have a more relaxed view. It is estimated a third of tech workers consume cannabis.
Yet one major, if not the major employer, government, is still figuring it out. Some states still require testing prior to receiving the job. HERE is the list of states and their policies. The federal government still requires testing, but is slowly changing their approach. When hiring an individual for a federal government position, a significant emphasis is placed on high-level screening and background checking. This includes a thorough drug test to ensure the potential candidate is not breaking any drug-related laws.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Defense (DoD) requires federal government pre-employment drug testing. These agencies have the highest requirements for their employees, and pre-employment drug testing is mandatory for all government employees. Yet both have been tweaked their policy. The Air Force and Space Force have also made changes to allow a broader net for potential employees.
The DOT has also adjusted their policy on cargo drivers once they have been hired. While they still have random drug testing (for good cause with those big rigs on the highway), the testing is more in line with alcohol and only go back for 24-80 hours.