Last updated: October 19, 2020
Even though marijuana is legal for medical and/or recreational use in several states, a lot of employers still drug test for it. Now before you climb on your high horse, it has to be said: Those tests and any consequences handed out for positive results of same are legal, no matter what your state says about Ms. Mary Jane.
But before you complain too loudly, think about this: Do you want to put your personal safety in the hands of substance abusers, who are responsible for 20 percent of workplace deaths and up to 60 percent of accidents?
Most employers test for marijuana via urinalysis. So let’s take a look at what you can expect if and when your number comes up.
What do I need to know about this drug test?
The good news is, a marijuana urinalysis is simple, quick, noninvasive, and painless. It’s also a fast, reliable way for your boss to find out if you’re using pot, even if you only use it during your off hours. Of course, weed isn’t the only drug this test can uncover. It will also detect:
- synthetic marijuana
- opioids (narcotics, including heroin and painkillers)
So what’s the process?
The urine test process is pretty straightforward, whether it’s run through a mobile lab or a brick-and-mortar lab:
- You sign a release form, allowing your employer to see the results of the test.
- The test administrator asks you to leave your purse, pocket junk, and coat in a secure location.
- He or she gives you a cup and, depending on the circumstances, may go with you to observe the collection.
- You pee in the cup, catching the sample midstream, then cap the sample.
- The test administrator sends the sample and a chain-of-evidence form to the lab.
At the lab …
- They do a simple, down-and-dirty immunoassay test that catches drugs based on the way they effect certain bodily processes.
- If that test is negative, you’re in the clear. If it’s positive, the lab runs a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry recheck to make sure you don’t get slammed for a false positive.
- If the test is still positive? In that case, you can expect a call from a Medical Records Officer who’ll ask you about any medical conditions that might have caused that positive.
- Absent a medical explanation, you’re due for a sit-down with your boss, who’ll list your options, if any, for getting help and remaining employed.
How often do I have to take this test?
If you’re currently employed, you may have already taken it. Plenty of companies drug test before hiring. Once you’re on the job, your company will probably test randomly, after an accident, if they have well-documented reasonable suspicion you’ve been using, or when you return to work after an accident or positive test result.
Who can see my test results?
Under HIPPA (also known as the Health Information Privacy Act), test results are considered personal health information. That means there are serious restrictions on who, if anyone, can see them. If, however, you signed a release form for your employer prior to testing, those results can and will be shared with individuals designated by the company.