Naomi Schaefer Riley of the American Enterprise Institute describes one negative consequence of society’s increased acceptance of drug use.

What jobs are OK to do while you’re high? It’s a question that employers are having to ask themselves a lot more these days, even as Congress considers decriminalizing marijuana.

A recent report found that the percentage of working Americans testing positive for drugs hit a  two-decade high in 2021. Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest drug testing companies in the nation, screened 6 million workers for marijuana last year; 3.9% of the tests came back positive. Many of those tests were “pre-employment,” meaning that the worker wasn’t even clean for the job interview.

Given the labor shortage and the fact that more and more states have legalized recreational marijuana, maybe this isn’t surprising. But it should still be concerning. Of course there are federal regulations requiring companies to test employees who are responsible for operating heavy machinery. But exactly which jobs are OK to do while high? …

… We might assume that professionals can do their jobs under the light influence of drugs without any concerns. Sure, there could be more typos in the newspaper and the computer code might have a few more glitches, but it’s not the end of the world. But the truth is that it is hard to get ahead with a substance use problem. And if you can’t stop using a drug long enough to get through a pre-employment drug test, you may have a problem.

Our country is facing a scourge of drug use, with overdose numbers reaching over 100,000 in a single calendar year. Alcohol abuse has also gone up dramatically, with alcohol deaths up 25% from 2019 to 2020 alone. Unfortunately, the message that we are sending to young people about drugs is that they are fine as long as the habit is managed well, and we can make some money off them.