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COVID Dreams: More Americans Got Toked In 2020, Study Shows

The year of the COVID-19 pandemic also appears to have been a year that more Americans got high. At least that’s where new research points.

Investors the ETFMG Alternative Harvest (ticker: MJ) exchange-traded fund, which holds a basket of marijuana-related stocks, will no doubt be smiling blissfully at the news. The fund was recently up 46% so far this year compared to gains of 12% for the S&P 500 index over the same period, according to Yahoo data. Neither figure includes dividends.

Billowing Use of Marijuana During in COVID-19 Pandemic

Drug testing of potential employees as well as testing of people who were recently involved in accidents showed there was a surge in cannabis use in 2020, according to drug testing firm Quest Diagnostics. The firm conducted 9 million such tests last year.

“[…] the rate of drug positivity remained stubbornly high despite seismic shifts to the workplace caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Barry Sample, a senior director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics
DGX
, in a statement.

More than one-in-eight of people given an oral fluid test showed evidence of marijuana use last year, up from less than one-in-10 in 2019, the company data show. Testing using hair samples also showed a surge with one-in-11 of the population testing positive in 2020 versus one-in-fourteen the previous year. Urine tests saw an increase in positive results for pot although they were much lower than with the other tests.

Who’s Getting High in the Kitchen?

The most likely groups getting high were accommodation / foodservice workers and those employed in the retail business, the study shows. In fact, one-in-16 people from each of those employee types tested positive for weed use. In both sectors the results showed an increase on the data from the year before.

More Legal — More Using

The cause of the overall pot-use surge may be because in many states it is now legal to smoke dope, a trend which started in 2021 according to Quest.

The fact that weed is now legal (or at least less illegal) in many jurisdictions seems to have had a bad effect. In 2020 the percentage of people who tested positive for Cannabis after an accident was more than double the rate it was in 2021. The positive rate surged to 6.4% last year up from 2.4% in 2012.

“Our post-accident data suggests that marijuana use may play a role those workplace incidents prompting a drug test,” Sample said in a statement.

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