Maui News

Year-End Results for Hawaiʻi Workplace Drug Testing Show Increase in Marijuana and Cocaine Use

January 5, 2021, 12:23 PM HST
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Chart that shows results of workplace drug testing in Hawaiʻi for Q4 of 2020. Chart courtesy: Diagnostic Laboratory Services

Results of year-end workplace drug testing in Hawaiʻi by Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc.  (DLS) show cocaine and marijuana use increased from the third quarter to the fourth quarter in 2020.

Each quarter, DLS conducts between 7,000 and 10,000 workplace drug tests for both government entities and private-sector companies.

Cocaine use jumped from 0.14 percent in Q3 to 0.30 percent in Q4 in 2020. But “the good news,” according to Steven Brimmer, scientific director of Toxicology at DLS, is the higher cocaine positivity rate of Q4 in 2020 is half the rate of Q4 in 2019.

The marijuana (THC) positivity rate was above 3 percent throughout 2020, with Q3 the lowest at 3.06 percent and Q4 the highest at 3.26 percent. The national marijuana positivity rate was 3.1 percent in 2019, with the west region’s rate being the highest at 4.1 percent. National rates for 2020 are not yet available.

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 2020] to Q4 2019 is approximately 35 percent,” Brimmer said.


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

The synthetic urine rate is 1.34 percent for Q4 2020 and has hovered between 1 percent and 1.5 percent for the past five quarters. Synthetic urine is primarily used to thwart drug tests.

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

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

 3rd Qtr 20Q4 20% diff
THC (Marijuana)3.06%3.26%6.8%
Synthetic Urine1.05%1.34%27.4%

Table 2: Q4 2019-to-Q4 2020 Results of Workforce Drug Testing

 4th Qtr 194th Qtr 20% diff
THC (Marijuana)3.20%3.26%2.0%
Synthetic Urine1.12%1.34%19.5%

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