By Robert Bergman, ILoveGrowingMarijuana.com
Because marijuana is not yet treated like other legal drugs, workers need to be constantly worried about whether or not they will be denied employment because they didn’t ‘pass’ a marijuana drug test. This is especially true if you use marijuana for its medicinal purposes. Medical marijuana patients will need to have a prescription that is recognized in the eyes of the law.
Urine drug test
If urine is found to test positive for the presence of a drug, a medical review officer is called in who will decide if a justifiable medical reason exists for the results of the test. If the worker has their prescription for that drug, such as codeine or oxycodone, it is excused and allowed by the company and the law. This normal procedure does not generally apply to medical marijuana, unfortunately.
Since marijuana is not recognized according to US federal law, even states that allow the use of medical marijuana will generally have companies that don’t allow the use of marijuana. Occasionally states give employers the opportunity to grant exceptions for the allowance of medical marijuana users with legal prescriptions, but there are only a few employers who accept that offer.
It’s important to know whether or not your company has medical marijuana policy exceptions. Do it discreetly, of course. If they do not, there are still a few steps you can take to pass the test. Then again, there are also plenty of techniques people use to try and get around the positive results of their test, all of which are highly ineffective and a waste of time.
Making excuses for your positive drug test is not going to get you anywhere. Although false positives do very occasionally happen, the chances of your employer believing you over the lab are extremely slim. Don’t bother arguing about it.
Some people try using the legally prescribed drug for acid reflux, called Protonix. Its FDA label clearly states that false urine tests are a possibility while taking this drug. Unfortunately, nowadays there are backup GCMS (gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer) tests that will eliminate the possibility of this leaving you in the clear. If your employer is private, however, then they probably don’t use this backup procedure anyway, so it’s possible you could get away with it.
Back in the day, hemp food items could be enough to register a false positive on a drug test. After this was becoming a problem, however, the hemp industry increased their limits and standards, and now anything you find in the grocery store won’t even be picked up by a drug test.
Some people attempt to use the “secondhand” smoke of marijuana to be the reason for their positive results. This is so unlikely, that it will never be believed. In order to have been exposed to enough secondhand smoke from marijuana smokers to have it give you a positive drug test result, you would need to have been in a sealed location with half a dozen smokers for numerous hours. Plus, all of them must be smoking heavily the entire time. Sometimes, however, people do consume the odd marijuana-based edible treat, such as at a party. Whether this will be an acceptable excuse to your employer, remains to be seen.
Like marijuana, Marinol has high levels of THC and, therefore, a legal prescription for it should be enough to account for the levels of THC in your urine. Despite Marinol being FDA approved medication, you are required to inform your employer of your use of Marinol before the test. One way to inform them is by listing it when you list any prescription drugs that you are currently taking. Occasionally employers won’t even let their employees operate while taking Marinol, under the justification that it makes you unfit to work, so be sure to know your employer’s policy for such things.
Technology has undergone some upgrades, and nowadays testing is getting more precise. This means that some tests are emerging which can distinguish the difference between marijuana and Marinol, so this technique needs to be used with caution.
Clean it out
The most effective way to pass the urine test is to stop the consumption of marijuana beforehand. Some places of employment have random drug testing, of course, in which case you will not be able to plan it this way ahead of time. Pre-employment drug tests, however, should enable you to have enough time to flush out your system.
There is no set rule on how long before the test you need to stop smoking. If you smoke once, 2-4 days before the test, it probably won’t be picked up. People who smoke on a daily basis, however, have a build up in their system that will require a longer amount of time to clean out. Aim for 2-3 weeks without any marijuana, with one full month being the only way to ensure that it is not picked up. In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have tested positive as long as two months after they stopped smoking. Click here to learn your options for cleaning out your system”
Some people try the method of diluting their urine, either through drinking lots of water just before the test or taking a diuretic beforehand. While these could indeed dilute the urine, this can only go so far. If urine is too watery, the labs will probably know. It will be rejected in this case, which means they will most likely ask you to retake the test. Dilution is not a good method to rely on.
Tampering with the urine sample
If you are truly desperate, you can try tampering with the results. Proceed with caution, however, as people are expecting a certain number of tamperers to try something. The most common way is to have clean urine with you. It needs to remain warm (between 90 and 98.5 degrees Fahrenheit) to be effective. You can get it from a friend or even buy it from a company online, although some states don’t allow it.
Many people swear by the method of bringing a container (generally something flexible, like a balloon) filled with their friend’s urine and transporting it within their underpants so as not to be found out. They then pour the urine into the cup and handed that cup as their own. The key is to keep the container with you afterward so there is no evidence and to bring something like a nail clipper to puncture a hole in the urine containing balloon.
Some desperate test takers use a chemical adulterant to change the composition of their urine sample. Although these are detectable, they are often not detected because labs don’t have the money to thoroughly check every sample in this way. False negatives could possibly be achieved by the use of bleach, vinegar, ascorbic acid, salt, soap, and even eye drops. In fact, eye drops are the most effective option and often go undetected — not including adulterants manufactured specifically for this cause. Chemical adulterant companies boast high success rates with their clients.
Blood tests can measure exactly how much THC is in your body at the time. Blood tests only show the most current information, and won’t display past marijuana usage like urine samples will. When marijuana is smoked, it only takes ten minutes for the THC levels to get their highest in the bloodstream. In just a few hours, these levels drop significantly. THC levels of ingested marijuana (i.e. through edibles) will take longer to kick in, and won’t be felt as strongly.
Blood tests are most often used to check into a drivers’ conditions after a car accident to see if they were under the influence. People are considered ‘impaired’ when they have a THC level of more than 3.5 to 5 ng/mL, which are most common within the hour after smoking. People who have built up a tolerance due to frequent use will most likely not be impaired at this level, however.
Despite these facts and studies, some states are trying to establish a zero-tolerance law for driving with marijuana in your system. Others are just trying to establish a numerical limit of some sort, despite the fact that people with a higher tolerance will not be hindered by reaching this limit. Incredibly, there have even been studies to show a person with ADHD could not pass a driving test without having marijuana in his or her system. Therefore, marijuana and alcohol should not be considered to have similar effects on driving.
Hair testing does not measure any current use of marijuana — it only measures marijuana intake from a few months prior. It involves taking a strand (or strands) or hair and analyzing it to see what kind of drug metabolites are present in the hair (and, therefore, were present in the body). Hair tests are generally more sensitive to other drugs such as cocaine, and they pose more of a threat to frequent users than they do to one-time or occasional users. Hair testing is a particularly frustrating form of drug testing because it sheds no light on how the worker would be performing at the time of testing. Nonetheless, it remains an option for employers to use for their drug testing.
There are shampoos available that specifically help marijuana smokers pass hair drug tests. They do a fair job of removing external residue from drugs, but, unfortunately, the metabolites themselves were built into the follicles of the hair and, therefore, cannot be removed. They are located within the shaft of hair instead of the outside, making it (so far) impossible to separate the metabolites from the hair. Therefore, shampoos are not proven to be a reliable way to pass a drug test.
How to deal with drug tests
Drug testing can be a particularly tricky issue for those who are using marijuana for medical reasons, especially when it is already legal in their state. These days drug tests are normal and accepted by wider society for the workplace, and some states have adopted the use of drug tests for driving accidents. This is even though they clearly do not understand the facts of how the drug and tests both actually work.
Urine is clearly the trickiest test of them all, as it detects marijuana for up to a month (and occasionally even longer) after a person’s last use. In the case of marijuana users, it is rather unfair because other drugs (meth, heroin, cocaine, and alcohol, to name a few) are not detected for as long. Alcohol, in particular, is difficult to detect and is generally not tested for in the workplace.
A urinalysis doesn’t actually measure the THC in the urine, but rather the psychoactive cannabinoid metabolites that remain after the high from the THC has disappeared. The levels of the metabolites increase steadily for a few hours right after smoking, and then very slowly decrease over time. Generally, this requires several days for people who don’t smoke more than a couple times per week. For frequent users, however, it will require several weeks since the cannabinoids and metabolites both build up within the fat of the body over time.
The strange thing about urine testing is that no studies show that its detection of the metabolites actually indicates a person’s current level of intoxication from the marijuana. It only shows that a person has smoked marijuana in the past several weeks. In any case, they are still used as an excuse to fire someone or prevent them from working.
Urine drug tests are not able to detect the difference between the occasional, previous use and current, impairing use. Despite that fact, the testing goes on everywhere and as frequently as ever. In reality, feces is where most of the THC in the body is deposited, but drug companies are unsure of whether this is a testing market worth pursuing or not. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope not.
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[Editor’s Note: You can find information on saliva drug tests by clicking here.]