City of Jacksonville drug screens show failure rate of only 2 percent

marijuana pot

The city of Jacksonville requires pre-employment drug screenings for everyone but elected officials.

How are those going?

On the bright side, 98 percent of those tested passed, according to the most recent statistics.

On the down side, those who fail: roughly 2 percent of those tested, according to Director of Employee Services Kelli O’Leary.

“For the current fiscal year, we have reviewed 2,322 drug screens. The total positive results equaled 47, which is 2 percent. Forty-one of the 47 were for pre-employment, which equates to 1.77 percent; 6 were random drug screens which equated to .26 percent,” O’Leary wrote.

Of 103 breath alcohol tests, just one failed, which equated to 0.97 percent.

Of course, drug tests typically impact marijuana users the most.

Alcohol leaves the system in twelve hours. Cocaine takes a few days. Marijuana, due to the way it metabolizes in fat cells, can take months to become undetectable for regular users.

Councilman Aaron Bowman, who posed an inquiry on this matter in a council committee in August, noted that “two percent is not bad, but I have yet to figure out why you would apply for a job knowing that testing was part of the process. If Medical Marijuana passes, it will really make us have to think and adapt.”

Bowman, in his role as commander of Naval Station Mayport, noted that 20,000 “samples” were processed during his three years in that role.

In places where marijuana is legal without a medical prescription, drug test failure rates are spiking.

There may be a correlation, if not causation, between legality in places like Washington and Colorado and failed tests.

“Washington and Colorado are believed by many to foreshadow future trends in ‘recreational’ marijuana use. While Quest’s Drug Testing Index shows dramatic spikes in marijuana positivity rates over the past year, a longer view of the data suggests a more complex picture,” said Dr. Barry Sample, director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, in 2014.

“It is possible that relaxed societal views of marijuana use in those two states, relative to others, may in part be responsible for the recent increase in positivity rates. Yet, this doesn’t explain why both states also experienced steep rises — and declines — in positivity in recent years,” Sample added.

Beyond those issues, one Florida city saw its drug testing policy successfully challenged in 2014.

A woman hired to be the solid waste coordinator in Key West refused to submit to the drug test, contending that it violated her constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure, by requiring an unreasonable violation of privacy expectations.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been the Northeast Florida correspondent for Florida Politics since 2014. He writes for the New York Post and National Review also, with previous work in the American Conservative and Washington Times and a 15+ year run as a columnist in Folio Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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