Do Drug Tests Unfairly Target Marijuana Users?

Marijuana use has been legalized in half of the country – in 4 states with recreational and medical use, and in 21 states with only medical legalization. It seems that public opinion of the herb is headed towards one of acceptance, especially for its healing properties and its reputation as a safer recreational substance. However, this view has not been welcomed in the workplace, even in states that have been recreationally legalized like Colorado. Interestingly enough, some companies have made their drug-testing policies even stricter since legalization.

Why?
Companies fear of a workforce full of stoners. Employers fear that marijuana will affect work performance. There have been many cases where people who were treating certain conditions and injuries with medical marijuana, and were fired from their jobs after failing a random drug-test. Efforts to explain to their employers that they are patients with a prescription or a medical marijuana card were ignored, with the argument that it could not be determined whether employees are abusing the substance that they are prescribed. An employer may decide to drug test a worker who was injured on site and they would test positive for marijuana even if they didn’t smoke at or before work. This would then prevent the employer from having to pay for the work-related injury even if the worker wasn’t high when the injury happened.

Is Marijuana discrimination legal?
Some states such as Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine and Rhode Island have ruled it to be illegal to discriminate medical marijuana users in the workplace. On the other hand, some states such as Florida have made it totally legal to discriminate. Because marijuana is not legal on the federal level, its position remains in a legal grey area even in legalized states, giving employers the ability to discriminate against users.

The Problem of Drug-tests
It has been estimated that a whopping 90 percent of Fortune 1000 companies and 62 percent of employers throughout the country administer mandatory drug-tests. These numbers are striking due to the fact that drug-tests are not always accurate or reasonable.

Studies have actually proven the urban myth that even a small amount of poppy seeds, such as the sprinkle of them you can find on your bagel, can trigger positive results for opiods. This suggests that drug-tests aren’t always accurate.

Drug-tests target marijuana way easier than other illicit substances. The human body can get rid of traces of amphetamines, cocaine, morphine, LSD, and even more substances well within 48 hours. Marijuana or THC on the other hand, depending on how often one consumes it, may take between a week and as long as 30 days for the substance to leave the body. THC may also come up on hair follicle tests even if you haven’t smoked in months.

Due to the long time that marijuana stays in one’s system, stoners who quit looking to pass a test are less likely to pass than someone doing heavier drugs only a few days prior to testing. Based on the facts do you think drug tests unfairly target marijuana users?

image credit:  GORD WALDNER / SASKATOON STARPHOENIX

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2 Comments

  • The worst part of marijuana UA workplace drug testing is the standard itself and the discrimination that comes with it.
    Federal Register/vol. 82. No.13/ executive order 7941 Section 3.4 defines the test standards for drug tests.
    Marijuana initial cutoff=50 ng/ml. This means that a UA reading of 49 ng/ml or less is supposed to be a Negative. The conformation test is to be performed Only on initial cutoff of 50 ng/ml or above.
    Unless ALTERNATE TECHNOLOGY is used instead of immunoassy then the conformation is used.
    Marijuana conformation test = 15ng/ml. This means 14 ng/ml or lower is Negative.
    Anything at or above the listed specifications is POSITIVE.
    Meth initial cutoff = 500 ng/ml anything less is a NEGATIVE while the conformat or test is 250 ng/ ml. ANY result less than 250 is a NEGATIVE.
    Also a person who tests Positive for meth must also be tested for amphetamines also. If the meth test is positive but the amphetamine test is negative then the reported result is NEGATIVE.
    DOT Rule 49, CFR Part 40, Subpart F
    Subsection 40.47 Mirrors the standard except subparagraph ( b) States the initial cutoff and conformation test MUST be performed similar to the specifications above.
    This is the standard for Semi Drivers and Airline Pilots.
    This is nothing short of a “witch hunt” for marijuana users by employers while meth just is not as important.
    Meth alters a person both mentally and physically PERMANENTLY. It drives a user to a life of crime due to severely impared judgement skills
    While meth overdose Deaths are common I have never heard of a person dying from a marijuana overdose.
    Incidently I recently failed a UA drug screen which was performed by Labcorp.
    My result was 35 ng/ml with the conformation test. Labcorp’s doctor said they did not receive an initial test result which probably was NEGATIVE.
    I pointed out the DOT procedure to the doctor and was told the employer did not have to follow the DOT standard.
    I stated that since the employer was a federal contractor they must follow the federal register test standards. The phone went silent.
    Then I asked if Labcorp used immunoassy or Alternate Technology.
    I was told that I needed a suphena to get that information.
    Since I am the one being tested I believe I have the right to ALL test information.
    I would like to know who monitors the test labs to ensure compliance to established federal procedures.
    Many states but not all have protections in place for medical marijuana users. This demonstrates that the state’s are loosing patience with the FDA and their classification of marijuana as a schedule 1 substance which means no medical value.
    What about Marinol,Sativex,Nabilone and CT-3 (A potent form of THC) All are synthetic THC. I thought according to the FDA that THC had no medical value but what do I know?

  • If you take a drug screen and test positive for THC under NO CIRCUNSTANCES ADMIT TO ANY MARIJUANA USE. This includes CBD products.
    And NEVER SAY A WORD TO YOUR EMPLOYER THAT YOU USE CANNABIS IN ANY FORM.
    THEY WILL SHOW YOU THE DOOR!
    Just like when you’re arested the officer states “anything you say can and will be used against you in court” a test lab’s doctor will report to the employer that you use marijuana and so much for your job. Pass of Fail!

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