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THC, Cocaine Use Rise in Second Half of 2020 Based on Workplace Testing

January 6, 2021, 7:30 AM HST
* Updated January 5, 8:47 PM
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Drug use is up across the board in Hawai‘i among the state’s employed residents since the beginning of this year but down in comparison to 2019, save for the rate of THC detection and the use of synthetic urine in drug testing.

Results of year-end workplace drug testing by Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. (DLS) show that cocaine use jumped from 0.14% in the third quarter (Q3) of 2020 to 0.30% in Q4 2020.

“The good news is that although the jump in the cocaine positivity rate is significant, the fourth quarter 2020 rate is approximately one half of the cocaine positivity rate in the fourth quarter 2019,” said Steven Brimmer, scientific director of Toxicology at DLS.

The THC positivity rate continues to trend above 3%. That trend continued in all quarters of 2020, with the lowest being in Q3 at 3.06% and the highest in Q4 at 3.26%. The national marijuana positivity rate was 3.1% in 2019, with the west region’s rate being the highest at 4.1%. National rates for 2020 are not yet available. Cannabis is medicinally legal in the state of Hawai‘i.

The Q4 positivity rate for amphetamines is approximately the same as in Q3.

“Once again, there is good news because the drop in the positive rate from Q4 2019 is approximately 35%,” noted Brimmer.

Opiate positivity rates are significantly lower than the national rate at 0.25% in 2019, remaining at around 0.15% for all four quarters in 2020.

Table1: Quarter-to-Quarter Results of Workforce Drug Testing

  3rd Qtr 20 Q4 20 % diff
Amphetamines 0.73% 0.72% -1.4%
Cocaine 0.14% 0.30% 110.0%
Opiates 0.13% 0.14% 6.3%
THC (Marijuana) 3.06% 3.26% 6.8%
Synthetic Urine 1.05% 1.34% 27.4%
       

Table2: Quarter4 2019-to-Quarter 4 2020 Results of Workforce Drug Testing

  4th Qtr 19 4th Qtr 20 % diff
Amphetamines 1.12% 0.72% -35.5%
Cocaine 0.64% 0.30% -53.0%
Opiates 0.16% 0.14% -15.4%
THC (Marijuana) 3.20% 3.26% 2.0%
Synthetic Urine 1.12% 1.34% 19.5%
       

The synthetic urine rate is 1.34% for Q4 2020 and has hovered between 1.0% and 1.5% for the past five quarters.

“Looking further back, the positivity rate of synthetic urines was slightly higher. This drop could be because the manufacturers of these fraudulent products are making a more sophisticated synthetic urine,” explained Brimmer.

Synthetic urine is primarily used to thwart drug tests.

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