Upcoming SAMHSA meeting to discuss hair testing and workplace cannabis testing

According to a recent Notice of Meeting published on the U.S. Federal Register Website, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention’s (CSAP) Drug Testing Advisory Board (DTAB) will hold an online meeting on June 21.

According to the Notice, the meeting will discuss Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, updates on the Drug Free Workplace Program as well as updates from the Department of Transportation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a presentation by Dr. Barry Sample on Workforce Drug Testing for Marijuana in 2021, and a presentation by Dr. Svante Vikingsson on Hydroxy Cocaine and Cocaine Ratios in Hair.

Recent FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse reports show that cannabis use is responsible for the majority of drug violations recorded by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Moreover, these data suggest that more truck drivers use cannabis than all other substances combined.

However, according to a recent study carried out by researchers at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) and discussed in a recent Foley Services article, these data may not be representative of the current situation.

“Our research found that DOT is seriously under reporting the actual use of harder drugs by truck drivers, such as cocaine and illegal opioids,” stated Dr. Doug Voss, Ph.D., Professor of Logistics and Supply Chain Management at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in a press release.

According to Dr. Voss, while urine tests are highly effective at detecting recent cannabis use, they are less effective for the identification of cocaine, heroin, and opioids.

Specifically, the study examined 1.5 million pre-employment urine drug tests recorded in the Clearinghouse, as well as 593,832 urine and hair tests submitted by carriers in The Trucking Alliance, which use both hair and urine testing during the hiring process.

The results of the study demonstrate that of those drivers who were disqualified from driving due to their drug test results, cocaine was identified 16% more frequently, and opioids were identified 14.34% more frequently compared to the data recorded by the Clearinghouse.

Dr. Voss’s study showed that hair testing detected the presence of drugs 825% more frequently than urine testing alone, which is the reason that the Trucking Alliance, as well as other companies, require both hair and urine testing as part of their pre-hire process.

Earlier in 2015, the U.S. Congress had approved the use of hair strand drug testing as “an acceptable alternative to urine testing” for both pre-employment and random drug tests. While the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued its first set of guidelines for this method in 2020, it was met with criticism from the industry. The Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed that they are currently still working on the proposed rule, but there is no timeline on its update.

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