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Changes to The Federal Workforce Drug Testing Guidelines

By: Vanessa Mitchell Tuesday, 7 May 2024

Drug test (2)

Changes are on the horizon for federal workplace drug testing. But before we get into what changes are being considered, let’s review some basic information on the Federal Workplace Drug Testing Guidelines.


Federal Workforce Drug Testing Guidelines

Currently workplace drug testing is a federally regulated program. Tests are commonly used for five categories of drugs: amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and phencyclidine. Although additional categories may be drug tested including: alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, hydrocodone, MDMA, methadone, methaqualone, and propoxyphene. The mandatory guidelines can be found using these links:

Mandatory Guidelines - Urine

Mandatory Guidelines – Oral Fluid

SAMHSA: also known as Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is who regulates the federal workforce drug testing guidelines.

DTAB: also known as Drug Testing Advisory Board is tasked with advising the SAMHSA drug testing and laboratory testing certification activities.



Officials met last month during the meeting of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Testing Advisory Board. At this meeting officials discussed removing MDMA and related MDA from workplace drug testing. This is due to the fact that the number of MDMA positive samples reported by certified laboratories is so rare, it would not support testing all specimens for MDMA or MDA. According to the NLCP (National Laboratory Certification Program) the positivity rate for MDMA is less than 0.003% and MDA has an even lower positivity rate. NLCP estimates that the removal of MDMA and MDA would save up to $40,000 per year.



Fentanyl has become a public safety concern due to a large number of overdose deaths in the United States. It is also increasingly used as a standalone substance. According to a 2022 National Forensic Laboratory Information System report, fentanyl was the third most identified drug substance reported by forensic laboratories, with over 13% of all drug positives. For these reasons, and more, the DTAB is considering adding Fentanyl to the drug testing standards. The proposed threshold for a positive result of fentanyl would be 1 nanogram per milliliter of blood. NLCP stated that due to high fentanyl testing costs, the annual costs to add fentanyl would be upwards of $200,000.


Impact on Workplace Drug Testing

If MDMA and MDA are removed from required workplace testing, case-by-case testing would still be permitted in certain circumstances such as post-accident drug testing, reasonable suspicion testing, etc.


Next Steps

SAMHSA will now respond to public comments received back in January. Then a federal review process must be completed that could include several rounds and revisions.


Please visit the Choice Screening Drug Testing Webpage for more information on getting started with drug testing in the workplace.

Contact your account advisor for more information on our services or for more information regarding the Drug Testing.

This blog is intended to be informative and not all-inclusive. You must consult with an employment attorney to ensure your processes are compliant with all federal and local regulations.

Topics: Drug & Alcohol Testing

Vanessa Mitchell

Vanessa Mitchell

Passionate blogger dedicated to making your life easier when it comes to background screening.