Meth, weed use up, cocaine down

LIHUE — Marijuana and amphetamine use is on the rise in Hawaii, according to an analysis of drug test results.

Diagnostic Laboratory Services, a medical testing laboratory that offers drug screening services for employers in the state, released an analysis on Thursday of its workforce drug test results in Hawaii during the first quarter of 2019.

In addition to an increase in positive test results for weed and amphetamines, the analysis pointed to a decline in cocaine use and found that people have been attempting to cheat the tests more frequently than before.

“Our largest increase this quarter is for synthetic urine, which is used by people to try to disguise drug use,” Steven Brimmer, director of Toxicology at Diagnostic Laboratory Services said in a press release.

Synthetic urine use is up over 40 percent compared to the same three-month period one year ago — 1.15 to 1.62 percent — and up 35 percent from the last quarter of 2018.

After a dip in the last half of 2018, amphetamine use is once again on the rise. Amphetamines — the powerful stimulant in crystal meth and prescription drugs used to treat attention deficit disorders — were found in 36 percent more drug tests in the first three months of 2019 than in the last quarter of 2018, according to the laboratory’s analysis.

Marijuana use — THC is by far the most common cause of a positive drug test result — has remained fairly constant. About three percent of all people tested from January to March had used marijuana, a slight increase from the previous quarter and the same period in 2018.

“This change is significant because of the larger number of THC positives and that our workforce positivity rates are relatively constant, even with the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries,” Brimmer said.

Cocaine appears to be getting less popular, according to the Diagnostic Laboratory Services analysis. Cocaine positive results dropped 17 percent from the previous year and nearly 20 percent compared to the last three months of 2018.

Positive results showing opiate use has remained relatively constant since the beginning of 2018. The percent positive rate for opiates ranges between 0.15 percent and 0.25 percent, according to the DLS press release. Opiate use during all quarters in 2018 and the first quarter in 2019 stayed within this range.

Diagnostic Laboratory Services typically uses between 7,000 and 10,000 drug tests results in its quarterly analyses.

2 Comments
  1. james April 5, 2019 7:19 am Reply

    The headline is a little misleading, wouldn’t you agree? Shouldn’t it have read ….”in the workplace”? And this is according to only one of many companies who test employees, and not all employees are subjected to drug testing. What about drug use in the general population?


  2. LMat April 5, 2019 12:17 pm Reply

    James is absolutely correct. These limited statistics, from a single data source, is absolutely NOT enough information to base such a broad and generalized statement like the headline to this article and by no means should be used as an indicator of what actual drug use levels in Hawaii really are. Come one TGI, this is clickbait…


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