NV: Caesars May Be Alone In Ending Marijuana Screening

Photo Credit: Erik Verduzco

Las Vegas’ largest gaming employers may not follow Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s lead of no longer screening job applicants for marijuana use.

A Caesars spokesman on Monday said the decision to end marijuana screening resulted from a need for good workers and the fact that Nevada has joined the ranks of states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Representatives of Wynn Resorts Ltd. on Monday and Las Vegas Sands Corp. on Tuesday confirmed they are not changing their policies on pre-employment marijuana testing. An MGM Resorts International spokeswoman wouldn’t clarify whether the company was changing its policy, saying the issue is complicated.

Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos representatives had no comment on their testing policies.

“Nevada law concerning marijuana has complex implications for employers in highly regulated industries like ours,” an MGM representative said Tuesday. “MGM Resorts has carefully reviewed its policies and work rules and has made adjustments as appropriate.”

Asked if that meant marijuana testing was on or off, the representative referred a reporter back to the statement.

Caesars will continue to screen applicants for marijuana use for federally regulated transportation-related job categories and will test employees if managers suspect workers are high while on the job.

Workforce drug use is at its highest rate in more than a decade, with increases found in cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana use nationwide, according to a report issued Tuesday by Quest Diagnostics.

In Nevada workplace testing, workers exceeded the national average for heroin metabolite, marijuana and opiate use but were lower than the national average for amphetamines, cocaine and PCP, according to Quest.

Increases in the percentage of positive tests for marijuana in the general U.S. workforce were most striking in states that have enacted recreational-use statutes since 2016, said Quest’s senior director of science and technology, Barry Sample.

Those states include Nevada (up 43 percent), Massachusetts (14 percent) and California (11 percent).

“These increases are similar to the increases we observed after recreational marijuana-use statues were passed in Washington and Colorado,” Sample said. “While it is too early to tell if this is a trend, our data suggests that the recreational use of marijuana is spilling into the workforce, including among individuals most responsible for keeping our communities safe. We encourage policy analysts to track these trends closely to determine whether a correlation between the state legalization of marijuana and increased workforce drug use, as suggested by our data, bears out in other research.”

The positive test rate for the U.S. workforce held steady at 4.2 percent in 2017, the same rate as in 2016. But the rate is a dramatic increase from 2012, when it hit a 30-year low of 3.5 percent, Quest’s positivity index analysis says.

The analysis of 2017 data also suggests shifting patterns of drug use, with cocaine and amphetamine use surging in some areas of the country and marijuana use rising sharply in states with newer statutes. Prescription opiate rates declined dramatically on a national basis.

Nevada workplace drug testing findings

For some drugs, Nevada workers tested positive higher than the national average, but some were lower. A look at positive test results in the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index findings for 2017:

— Overall drug use, Nevada workforce 4.3%, U.S. workforce 4.2%.

— Heroin metabolite, Nevada 0.044%, U.S. 0.028%.

— Amphetamines, Nevada 0.73%, U.S. 1.1%.

— Cocaine, Nevada 0.19%, U.S. 0.28%.

— Marijuana, Nevada 2.7%, U.S. 2%.

— Opiates, Nevada 0.45%, U.S. 0.4%.

— PCP, Nevada 0.006%, U.S. 0.02%.