Last updated: February 24, 2020
If your employer is dedicated to a drug-free workplace, count yourself lucky. You’re working for a company that cares about its employees and has:
- fewer on-the-job fatalities
- fewer workplace accidents—as many as 51 percent fewer
- less absenteeism, which means you don’t have to take up the slack for a substance abuser who can’t make it to work
- lower health care costs
- a much lower risk of workplace violence
Why does my employer test for marijuana?
Despite the fact that many states have legalized pot for either recreational and/or medical use, employers can and do test for that drug. They’re even within their rights to take action if you test positive. That’s because weed can increase on-the-job risk due to:
- inability to concentrate
- impaired judgment
- decreased alertness
- slower reaction time
- inhibited short-term memory
- reduced productivity/efficiency
How do they test for marijuana?
Employers can choose from several methods to test for marijuana.
For saliva/oral fluid drug screenings you tuck an absorbent pad between cheek and gum until it’s saturated, then place it in a vial. The technician seals the vial and sends it to a lab for analysis. This test will detect marijuana use within the past 24 to 48 hours and can even reveal your current level of impairment.
Hair follicle screenings are also easy to perform and will detect pot use within the past 90 days, possibly longer, depending on how fast your hair grows. The technician will take a sample as close to your scalp as possible, testing the most recent 1.5 inches. Because it takes several days for drug traces to show up in hair follicles, this method isn’t as useful for testing very recent marijuana use.
The vast majority of employers use urinalysis drug testing to detect pot, because the test is fast, accurate, and easy to perform.
What’s the urinalysis process?
Urinalysis testing requires a secure restroom. Your employer may opt to use one on site, if testing is performed by a mobile vendor, or you may go off site to a doctor’s office or lab.
The process is pretty straightforward:
- You report to the collection site.
- A technician will have you sign a release form and ask you to leave personal items—purse, pocket miscellany, and/or outer wear in a secure location.
- You’ll be given a specimen cup, which you take into the restroom, where you’ll catch a urine sample, mid-stream.
- You cap the cup and give it to the technician, who sends it and a chain-of-evidence form to the lab.
When can I expect to be tested for marijuana?
Generally speaking, employers test for drugs:
- before hiring
- on a random schedule
- after an accident
- when you return to work
- when follow-up testing is needed
Who can see my test results?
Drug test results are considered personal health information and sharing is governed by HIPPA guidelines. Your employer has to have you sign a release form prior to testing, in order to have access to the results.