5 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Reinvigorate Your Drug Testing Program

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Over the past several years, some employers have made the misguided decision to cut back on their drug testing. For whatever reason—the pandemic, the legalization of marijuana, the economy, or whatever—they have cut back on the one thing that has proven to be the most effective way to deter people from being high on the job—drug testing.

At a time when drug abuse is increasing every year, when a growing number of people admit to using marijuana on the way to work or while on duty, when post-accident positive drug test results are at a 25-year high,[i] pre-employment drug screening as well as random, post-accident and reasonable suspicion testing of employees is more important than ever. Yet, there are still companies that refuse to admit that the decision to significantly curtail how much testing they conduct, was a mistake. But it was.

For some companies, traditional drug testing methods don’t meet their needs as precisely as they would like in today’s struggling economy and competitive job market. Maybe it takes too long, costs too much, or drives away too many qualified job applicants who can’t wait several days to learn the result of a drug test in order to get a job offer. Regardless, these employers need a more employee- and applicant-friendly drug testing method that is easier to administer and more cost-effective to maintain.

For many companies, drug testing has become a problem. The good news is rapid-result oral fluid testing can be the solution.

Here are 5 compelling reasons to reinvigorate your drug testing program and how rapid-result oral fluid testing helps make drug testing easier, faster and more effective.  

Marijuana Legalization and More—Virtually every state has either legalized or decriminalized marijuana. And unfortunately, some employers are under the mistaken impression that with the legalization of marijuana, drug testing for cannabis is no longer permitted in their state. That is false; drug testing is legal in all 50 states though some conditions may apply depending on the state. But if there are lingering concerns about what employers should and shouldn’t know about what their employees are doing on their own time, away from the workplace, rapid oral fluid testing alleviates those issues. 

Marijuana is only detectable in oral fluid for about 12 hours compared to 3-4 days with urine or up to three months with hair. It is also capable of detecting parent THC, the psychoactive form of the drug, immediately after someone uses marijuana. This tighter window of detection and ability to detect very recent drug use makes rapid oral fluid testing ideal for employers who want to get all the benefits of drug testing without prying into workers’ evening and weekend lawful activities.

It is important to note that marijuana is not the only drug for which employers must be concerned. Abuse of opioids and methamphetamines, among other substances, are also on the rise and can have an impact on the workplace. Oral fluid testing is capable of detecting these commonly used drugs.

Budgetary Concerns—Rapid oral fluid testing typically costs less than other drug testing methods.  But, when the real cost of drug testing is considered, rapid oral fluid testing is even more cost-effective. For instance, immediate results eliminate costly delays in making employment decisions, such as extending a job offer to a qualified candidate or removing someone from performing safety-sensitive duties. But there’s more.

Oral fluid samples are so easy to collect that employees can be taught how to oversee the collection process on-site, either at the workplace or wherever job interviews are being conducted. This saves money by not having to hire expensive technicians to conduct the collection and it saves time by not having to send individuals to far-away, off-site facilities where they may wait 2-3 hours to provide a urine sample. All of that time away from work costs money, or in the case of pre-employment testing, can cost extra money to go through the interview process with secondary choices for a job because your first choice decided to go to another job interview rather than waste time driving 30+ minutes to a collection site. These so-called “soft dollar” savings add up quickly, especially when a company is accustomed to hiring dozens of new workers on a weekly basis.

Finding Qualified Workers—Ever since the pandemic, America has been in the throes of a labor shortage. In an effort to onboard job candidates faster, some employers have chosen to discontinue their pre-employment drug testing programs in favor of hiring virtually anybody who will show up for a job interview. But what does this “head-in-the-sand” approach cost? Trouble.

According to a survey conducted by one large provider of employee screening services, “When post-accident drug positivity for clients who do preemployment drug screening is compared to that of clients who do not, the rate of change is pronounced. Clients that performed pre-employment drug screening experienced a 17% increase in post-accident positivity rates from 2019 to 2020; meanwhile, clients that did not perform preemployment drug screening saw their post-accident rates more than double from 2019 to 2020.”[ii]

Rapid oral fluid testing delivers accurate, reliable drug test results that are available within about 10 minutes rather than 3-4 days with lab-based testing. An immediate result makes same-day hiring decisions a reality and significantly improves the conversion rate to hire. It also means employers do not have to settle for candidates who can’t pass a drug test. After all, first-choice job candidates should be able to pass a drug test.

Workplace Safety—Holding out for employees who can pass a pre-employment drug test just makes good business sense, especially at a time when more and more post-accident drug tests are coming up positive.

According to one major laboratory’s report: “In 2023, post-accident marijuana positivity of urine drug tests, in the general U.S. workforce, was 7.5%. The new peak follows a steady increase in post-accident marijuana positivity every year from 2015 to 2023. In that 9-year time frame, post-accident marijuana positivity increased 114.3%.”[iii]

The laboratory report aligns with a 2024 report from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Health Forum), that stated: “Recreational marijuana laws that allow recreational marijuana sales were associated with a 10% increase in workplace injuries among individuals aged 20 to 34 years… Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that recreational marijuana impedes cognitive function and care among younger workers.”[iv]

Rapid oral fluid testing makes it possible to identify drug users quickly allowing employers to make informed decisions about whom to hire. It also makes post-accident drug testing faster and more efficient. In many cases, the individuals involved in a workplace accident will test negative and can return to work the same day. This saves time and money as employers look to safeguard productivity.

Company Reputation—When a company conducts drug testing, the word spreads. Job applicants who use drugs will likely avoid applying for employment with those companies while applicants who prefer to work in a drug-free workplace will actually seek employment with such companies. It’s the kind of reputation any employer wants to have.

Rapid oral fluid testing contributes to an enhanced company reputation. Because it makes the entire pre-employment screening process easier, faster, and less of a hassle for job applicants, the word gets around that applying for a job with a company that conducts pre-employment screening using rapid oral fluid testing is a much more enjoyable experience. One company that hires about 20,000 people annually experienced a 75% drop in complaints from job applicants about the hiring process after switching to rapid oral fluid testing.[v]

What to Look For in a Rapid Oral Fluid Device

The science behind oral fluid testing is sound. In fact, when the federal government issued final regulations for lab-based oral fluid testing in October 2019, they stated the following: “The scientific basis for the use of oral fluid as an alternative specimen for drug testing has now been broadly established and the advances in the use of oral fluid in detecting drugs have made it possible for this alternative specimen to be used in federal programs with the same level of confidence that has been applied to the use of urine.”[vi]

However, not all rapid-result oral fluid testing devices are created equally. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a rapid oral fluid device:

  1. FDA clearance is the gold standard for drug testing devices and only one rapid oral fluid device has this designation, the OralTox device from Premier Biotech. Some state drug testing laws only permit the use of an FDA-cleared device. A secondary designation known as E&I, which stands for Employment and Insurance, is found on some devices and has recently become popular though it may not satisfy some state requirements.
  2. Capability to interact with a reader system expands the list of environments where rapid oral fluid testing can be conducted.  A reader system like OT-Scan from Premier Biotech makes it possible for rapid device results to be rendered automatically instead of interpreted by an employee.
  3. Confirmation testing conducted on the same sample used for the initial screen is a best practice one should always try to follow. The OralTox device retains oral fluid so it can be sent directly to Premier Biotech for confirmation testing.  This eliminates the need to collect a second sample using another oral fluid collection device saving the costs for that second device.
  4. Look for a device with a proven track record of success. Many new products are coming on the market as the popularity of rapid oral fluid testing increases. However, a device with a history of reliability is crucial. Why? Because when you use a device for something as critical as a drug test, you need to be working with a company that can provide high quality devices on time, that can keep up with the demand for the product, and that doesn’t cut corners in the manufacturing process. Ask around. Satisfied customers are usually happy to share their experiences.


Drug testing can be complicated, but the decision to maintain a vigorous drug testing program is an easy one. With all the exposure to legal liability employers face in today’s age of legal marijuana, and the ever-increasing rate of substance abuse and its impact on the workplace, it’s a VERY good time to reinvigorate your drug testing program.

Regardless of the reason why you may have cut back on your program, relying on drug testing can help any company achieve a safe and healthy workforce. Rapid-result oral fluid testing, which addresses virtually every concern a company may have had in the past about traditional drug testing methods, makes it possible to conduct drug testing in a fair, efficient, and cost-effective way.

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[i] Workforce Drug Test Cheating Surged in 2023, Finds Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index Analysis of Nearly 10 Million Drug Tests. Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index. May 2024. https://newsroom.questdiagnostics.com/2024-05-15-Workforce-Drug-Test-Cheating-Surged-in-2023,-Finds-Quest-Diagnostics-Drug-Testing-Index-Analysis-of-Nearly-10-Million-Drug-Tests

[ii] “Pre-Employment Drug Screening Correlated to Lower Post-Accident Drug Screening Positivity.” First Advantage. October 2021. https://fadv.com/blog/when-employers-stopped-drug-testing-during-covid-19-post-accident-drug-positivity-soared/ For more information, contact First Advantage at https://fadv.com/solutions/pre-employment-drug-screening/

[iii] Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index.

[iv] Recreational Marijuana Legalization and Workplace Injuries Among Younger Workers. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Health Forum). February 2024. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama-health-forum/fullarticle/2815242

[v] Case Study. Premier Biotech. 2024.

[vi] Mandatory Guidelines for Federal

Workplace Drug Testing Programs—Oral/Fluid. Federal Register. October 2019. https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/programs_campaigns/division_workplace_programs/final-mg-oral-fluid.pdf

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