A top manufacturer of drug testing technology has announced a new screening panel that no longer detects marijuana and instead prioritizes fentanyl and other controlled substances in response to the “relentless change and the pressing need to adapt” as more states legalize cannabis.
Psychemedics said its updated Advanced 5-Panel Drug Screen “will transform the way organizations safeguard their workplaces, shifting the spotlight from marijuana to the paramount threat of fentanyl.”
The screening panel, which the company said has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is also being touted for increased accuracy in the detection of cocaine, opioids, PCP and amphetamines.
“As we grapple with an ongoing labor shortage and with marijuana’s legal landscape evolving in 49 states, it’s clear that the time for a change has come,” Psychemedics, which was founded in 1987 and pioneered the use of hair testing, said in a press release on Friday. “Traditional 5-panel drug tests, rooted in a four-decade-old paradigm, have failed to evolve in today’s drug market and are unable to detect the rising drug, fentanyl.”
Brian Hullinger, president and CEO at Psychemedics said that “few challenges in the workplace have undergone as dramatic a transformation as the shifting dynamics between marijuana and fentanyl.”
“Recognizing this shift, Psychemedics has developed the Advanced 5-Panel to bridge the gap,” he said.
An increasing number of legal cannabis states have enacted protections for workers who use marijuana off duty, preventing employers from taking adverse action over state-sanctioned activities.
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For example, California’s governor recently approved a bill to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about prior marijuana use.
In Michigan, a policy took effect this month that ends pre-employment drug testing for marijuana for most government job applicants, while also giving people who’ve already been penalized over positive THC tests an opportunity to have the sanction retroactively rescinded.
In May, the governor of Washington State signed a bill into law that will protect workers from facing employment discrimination during the hiring process over their lawful use of marijuana.
That means Washington has joined Nevada in prohibiting discrimination against job applicants for testing positive for marijuana. New York also provides broader employment protections for adults who legally use cannabis during off-hours and away from work.
At the congressional level, the House Rules Committee has repeatedly blocked attempts by lawmakers to end the practice of drug testing federal job applicants for marijuana as part of large-scale spending bills this session.
Over in the Senate, however, members passed defense legislation in July that contains provisions to bar intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA from denying security clearances to applicants solely due to their past marijuana use.
The House Oversight and Accountability Committee also passed a standalone bipartisan bill late last month that would prevent the denial of federal employment or security clearances based on a candidate’s past marijuana use.
At the same time, there are growing concerns about fentanyl in the drug supply. While experts have challenged claims about fentanyl-laced marijuana, there’s recognition that the potent opioid is being detected in drugs like heroin and cocaine.
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Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.