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The Basics of a Cannabis Drug Test in the Workplace

The Basics of a Cannabis Drug Test in the WorkplaceThe Basics of a Cannabis Drug Test in the Workplace

By Annie Loupy

A drug-free workplace is still achievable without insisting on drug tests which will come back positive when an employee uses marijuana responsibly at home and not at work. THC is still being tested in the workplace even in states where medical and recreational cannabis is legal.

But what about the culture of alcohol? Employees are allowed to get smashed the night before and show up to work hungover – probably working much less efficiently than the responsible marijuana user. And, at many offices, alcohol is served in the workplace meaning that an employee is encouraged to work while under the influence of alcohol but might be fired for using marijuana in the privacy of their own home and not at work. Something doesn’t sound right here.

Labor law attorney Todd Scherwin told CBS Los Angeles that “there’s only very few industries where someone can randomly drug test.” Though, Prop 64, voted on by Californians last November, muddies the waters a bit with the very ambiguous clause that “allows public and private employers to enact and enforce workplace policies pertaining to marijuana.”  The interpretation can lead to confusion. The bottom line is that privacy policies and whether or not your employer has the right to drug test you all depends on the state laws in which you live. Even if your employer doesn’t threaten you with a drug test before hire, there are a few moments when your employer is legally able to test you.

4 Reasons for a Cannabis Drug Test At Work

1. Your company risks losing a federal contract

The Federal government does not legal recognize marijuana, so it stays as a class 3 “dangerous” drug meaning that if you work for them, they have a zero tolerance policy for drugs. If your employer has a federal contract, they may require that all their employees are drug-free in order to maintain their business contract.

2. You cause suspicion at work

This should be obvious. If you are at work and are acting strange, your employer has the right to test you on the spot – like if you are swerving in a car and an officer checks you with a breathalyzer. If you fall down, slur your words or even show up late too often, your employer could have a strong case to insist on a drug test.

3. Working in a government office

Just like having a federal contract, when you work for a government office, they are bound to the rules of the federal government which means a no drug tolerance. Even if you have a prescription medically, the federal government does not recognize medical marijuana as legal and, therefore, omits the approval of medicating yourself with a harmless plant.

4. You operate machinery or regularly crosses state lines

When you take safety into consideration, drug tests make sense. As a construction worker or someone who operates dangerous machinery, it is important to make sure that an employee is not under any influences which, unfortunately, also includes weed. There isn’t a way to test on the spot if someone is under the influence of marijuana – only to find traces of cannabinoids in the system which can last for days.

The Basics of Cannabis Testing

1. Urine Test

The urine test is how most employers test for drugs. Marijuana can be present in the urine for typically 2 days, however, there is some cautionary advice that if someone is a frequent user, cannabis can be detectable up to two weeks in the urine.

2. Blood Test

The other possibility is a blood test which is the most accurate. The problem with the blood test is that it is testing for cannabinoids in the system and we all have natural cannabinoids in the human body. For someone who naturally has a higher amount or someone who smokes but has a low count of cannabinoids, the test can be inaccurate. This test also has a reputation for producing false positives due to other substances that might alter the test results like prescription medications or the consumption of hemp which is federally legal and not THC.

3. Police Test

The police have needed to come up with a way to test drivers under the influence. Since marijuana is not as easy to test on the spot like alcohol with a breathalyzer, the police force has come up with a series of tests: The accused will be asked to follow an object with their eyes, to pass the walk and turn test without losing balance or count of steps, or to keep their balance during the one-legged stand test. The problem with all of these is that the accused, even sober, will be nervous and very easily fail. The other problem is that an experienced stoner can still pass these tests while someone who only smoked a tiny bit but still has full functionality and driving capabilities might become very agitated and fail the test.

4. Metabolic Rate

This is a very important and variant factor in human beings. Someone with a higher metabolic rate will be able to flush the cannabinoids out of their system much faster than someone with a slower rate. This also gives smokers with a higher metabolism an advantage over passing a drug test. If you are an eating machine that still stays thin, you are lucky for two reasons – the fact that you can eat whatever you want and that you can smoke with less risk of being caught.

5. How to Pass

If you   search on the internet ‘how to pass a drug test,’ you will find some outrageous answers. There is no sure fail-free way except not to be sober. But, if you need advice on how to pass a test or in order to prepare for the next cannabis drug test day on your calendar, you can always try two more things: 1. Check your state laws and privacy policies to put pressure on your employer not to test you or to delay the test. 2. You can always find another job.


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