Deterrent Effect Of Workplace Drug Testing Overstated, Study Says

Irvine, CA: Claims that workplace drug testing programs can dramatically reduce employee drug use are overstated, according to the findings of a study to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Health Services Research.

“Previous studies have interpreted the large negative correlation between workplace drug testing and employee substance use as representing a causal deterrent effect of drug testing,” the study says. “Our results using more comprehensive data suggest that these estimates have been slightly overstated due to omitted variable bias” such as failure to account for other workplace programs (e.g., employee assistance programs) and/or whether employees who do not consume illicit drugs are more likely to work in environments that mandate drug testing.

Though the study did report a negative correlation between workplace drug testing and self reported monthly use of marijuana, the study did not conclude that workplace drug testing was necessarily associated with increased employee productivity or decreased accidents.

The study reported that US businesses spend an estimated $6 billion per year on employee drug testing programs.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, “Workplace drug testing and worker drug use,” will appear in Health Services Research. Additional information on the costs of workplace drug testing is available online at: