The U.S. House approved a measure today (H.J. Res 42) that would roll back an Obama Administration regulation limiting the ability of states to drug test people who file for unemployment insurance.
Today’s vote is the latest in a string of efforts by Republican leadership to use congressional authority granted under a federal law known as the Congressional Review Act to repeal recently finalized federal regulations. Before the Department of Labor’s rule can be repealed, however, the Senate must vote to do the same. The White House has stated in a Statement of Administration Policy that it supports H.J. Res 42. Advocates see the repeal of the Department of Labor rule as a first step by some Republicans in Congress at undoing federal restrictions on states conditioning receipt of unemployment and other forms of public assistance on a drug test.
“It’s appalling that instead of helping people who have lost their jobs, the Republican leadership in Congress is choosing to drug test them,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s shameful that Congress would demonize people who use drugs, especially when there has been so much recent rhetoric about helping people who struggle with opioid and other forms of addiction. The reality is that people who receive public assistance are no more likely to use drugs than the general population. These drug testing programs have proven again and again to accomplish nothing and are a big waste of tax dollars,” said Smith.
On Tuesday, nearly 50 concerned civil rights, faith, and criminal justice organizations sent a letter to Congress opposing this drug testing legislation.
In 2012, Congress passed a law allowing states to require drug testing as a condition of receiving unemployment insurance in cases where a person was let go from their last job because of unlawful drug use or cases where a person applying for unemployment insurance who is only available for suitable work in an occupation that regularly conducts drug testing. The 2012 federal law also instructed the Department of Labor (DOL) to define through regulation what those occupations that regularly drug testing are, and last year, DOL published a final rule limiting those occupations primarily to those with a public safety concern (aviation and railroad workers, jobs that require carrying a firearm etc.) This 2012 law was the result of a bipartisan compromise reached between Republicans managing the underlying legislation who wanted to completely lift this prohibition and Democrats who wanted to maintain the prohibition. Prior to 2012, federal law had been interpreted to prohibit states from imposing drug testing requirements on unemployment insurance applicants.
In a conclusive 9 to 2 vote, the 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals has ruled that drug testing all college students is unconstitutional.
The Thursday ruling reinstates a 2013 ruling that a Missouri technical college’s mandatory drug testing policy is unconstitutional when it is applied to all students regardless of their area of focus. The ruling, which was championed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) , reverses an earlier decision by a three-judge panel.
“Fostering a drug-free environment is surely a laudable goal”, Judge Roger Wollman stated in the court’s majority opinion, but; “Linn State has not demonstrated that fostering a drug-free environment is a ‘special need’ as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Much of the world hasn’t fully realized the harmlessness nor embraced the benefits of marijuana. Government fueled propaganda campaigns and other movements of marijuana misinformation have had lasting effects that legislature has been slow to correct. One of the unfortunate results of past and present misinformation has been unprovoked and invasive drug screens. Approximately 84 percent of employers require pre-employment drug tests; this doesn’t include the countless other reasons that one might be subjected to testing.
For now, drug screening is a reality that many of us will have to face at one point or another. We’ve put together a complete overview of drug testing for marijuana and provided some guidelines to follow to help you pass them. We don’t believe that anyone should be subjected to an unprovoked drug screen and hope that you find this useful for the next time you have to visit a lab.
Marijuana Is Quickly Metabolized but THC Metabolites Can Linger
The high from using marijuana will often disappear within a few hours, but the actual mechanism that gets one high and that which the labs test for can linger in the system and be detected for up to weeks depending on the frequency and quantity used. The primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – Tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-9-THC or simply THC – enters one’s bloodstream soon after using. THC is typically only detectable in the bloodstream for 3 to 24 hours because it is quickly metabolized into THC-COOH molecules commonly called THC metabolites. As you’ve likely heard, these THC metabolites are stored in fat and gradually released through the body’s natural excretion systems (approximately 20% is excreted in urine, approximately 65% in feces and the remainder in sweat). We’ll address these three natural excretion systems later in this article since they are important factors when attempting to come up with a successful detox program.
Drug Screening Methods
The most well-known drug testing types include hair, saliva, blood and urine. Oral fluid and blood testing is not very common since THC metabolites are typically only detectable in saliva and blood for up to 72 hours and 24 hours, respectively. 5 and 10-panel urinalysis screens for are much more popular given their cost and extended detection times. Since they’re so much more common (more than 75% of the pre-employment testing administered), passing a urinalysis will be our focus.
Urinalysis Detection Times
Some THC metabolites have an elimination half-life of less than 24 hours. Most credentialed experts agree the remainder won’t be released from the body’s fatty tissues for 15 to 30 days. There have been reports of detection times longer than 30 days but this has been very rare; the most credible source and recent (last updated October 2016) study on detection times has been by the Mayo Medical Laboratories:
This of course is dependent on how often a person smokes (frequency), how much they smoke (quantity), and their metabolism (general health, diet and exercise).
False positives are rare for cannabis due to how commonly it’s tested (because of how often it’s used). Labs are very sophisticated and kept up to date on how individuals cheat these tests. The laboratory first screens the sample with an immunoassay screen (also called an EMIT and or RIA). False positives are rare because if a positive result is returned, the sample is again screened with a backup method called a GCMS, which is much more costly but also much more accurate.
Can You Cheat Your THC Drug Screen?
There are a lot of suggestions online in forums and on YouTube about how to cheat a drug test; as stated before, labs are well aware of these and thus they rarely work. If a drug screen results in a tainted sample, they’ll simply require that you take another. Some common advice for cheating includes:
Dilution – This includes drinking a lot of water and urinating several times before the test. This is helpful for lowering THC levels in your system and should be part of any detox program but this should not be relied on as a fail-safe. We recommend always drinking a healthy amount of water (at the very least eight 8-ounce glasses a day).
Masking Agents – Some companies sell various substances that mask a drug sample. These typically return false positives and require the lab to legally take a second sample, one which the individual often fails.
Tampering – This requires adding something to the urine to contaminate it and through off the lab results. Out of all the ways to cheat a drug test, we recommend these the least. They are even less likely to work than a masking agent, as it will only return a false positive and require the lab to legally take a second sample.
If you have to take a urine screen for employment or other purposes then we highly recommend you do a full detox and not attempt to “cheat” the test. Although how long it takes is different for everyone, eventually your body will remove THC from you system through its natural processes. That being said, there are ways to boost you body’s excretion systems (urination, feces and sweating) and speed up THC removal. If you have at least three weeks until your drug screen and are a fairly healthy person that isn’t a very heavy smoker, then we’re confident you can detox naturally and pass your test by following the below:
Abstain from inhaling or ingesting marijuana – Obvious enough.
Eat a clean diet that is low in carbohydrates and sugar – A diet like this forces the body to metabolize fat (where THC metabolites are stored) instead of glucose.
Drink lots of water and green tea – Having healthy amounts of both water and green tea will lower THC metabolite levels through their diuretic properties and cleansing of the kidneys. Additionally, hydration is a key factor for a robust metabolism.
Exercise and hit the sauna, steam-room or jacuzzi – All of these will speed up a person’s metabolic rate, burn THC metabolites and stimulate waste removal.
If you have less than two weeks until your THC urinalysis or are simply looking for additional assurance that you’ll pass, we recommend obtaining a natural ingredient detox kit. These natural kits are typically safer than many of the harsh masking agents on the market. Additionally, if you only have a short amount of time, detox kits that truly remove detectable THC metabolites from your system can be the missing link between your body’s excretion systems and passing your test. One of the natural detox kits that we recommend is Verdant Herbal’s 48 Hour THC Detox Kit. Verdant Herbal’s detox kit is a unique THC cleanse that has evolved over the past 8 years using customer research, feedback and independent studies done within the industry. They have isolated the most effective ingredients and brought them all together into one comprehensive formula using only pharmaceutical grade (certified) natural extracts. Each of the ingredients has a specific function for enhancing the detox process.
Remember, when preparing for a drug screen, time is your most valuable commodity; the more time you have the more likely you are to be able to detox naturally. Other important variables include frequency of use, quantity of use, metabolic rate and overall health. Home drug test can be used to find out if you’ll definitely fail a lab test but not to find out if you’ll pass; meaning, if you fail a home drug test then it’s essentially guaranteed that you’ll fail a lab test but passing a home drug test doesn’t mean that you’ll pass a lab test. Lastly, if you’re short on time, then extra measures like detox kits are an option and should be considered to ensure you pass your test without any issues.
Not a single welfare recipient or applicant has tested positive for banned drugs in a Michigan pilot program, part of the growing practice of screening beneficiaries of government assistance for drug abuse.
The program, which ends on 30 September, may face renewed scrutiny in the wake of Wisconsin congresswoman Gwen Moore’s proposed legislation to force taxpayers with more than $150,000 of itemized deductions to submit to the IRS a clear drug test. Under the legislation, applicants who refuse the test would be required to take the significantly lower standard deduction when filing their taxes.
The Washington D.C. Council has approved the Prohibition on Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Amendment Act of 2015 (Bill 21-25). The measure was passed on a unanimous voice vote.
According to an official summary of the bill, it would prohibit employers “from requiring a prospective employee to submit to a drug test for marijuana use as a part of the application procedure.” In addition, the legislation “requires the Mayor to: Establish a public information campaign on the impact of marijuana use and abuse; Report to the Council information regarding health education programs in public schools related to substance abuse; Evaluate the effectiveness of the District’s treatment programs regarding the use and abuse of marijuana.”
Schools should not use random, suspicionless drug tests to catch or deter drug users, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says in an updated policy statement. The Academy came out in opposition to such policies in the new issue of the journal Pediatrics.
“School-based drug testing is a controversial approach to preventing substance use by students”, says the AAP’s report. “Although school drug testing has hypothetical benefits, and studies have noted modest reductions in self-reported student drug use, the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes widespread implementation of these programs because of the lack of solid evidence for their effectiveness.”
The Washington D.C. Council has unanimously passed legislation that will prohibit employers from drug-testing potential employees for cannabis before a conditional job offer has been made.
The proposal, titled the Prohibition of Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Emergency Act of 2014 and introduced by Councilmember Vincent Orange, would makes it explicit that an employer cannot test a potential employee for cannabis use until after an offer for employment has been made. After such an offer has been made, and an employee has been hired, they must still “adhere to the workplace policies set forth by their employer”, meaning they can still be tested for on-the-job cannabis use.
A Georgia bill signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal in March which would require some food stamp recipients to undergo random drug testing is illegal and can’t be implemented according to a letter sent to the state by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Under the bill signed into law in March, a state worker would be authorized to require a food stamp recipient to take a random drug test if they have “a reasonable suspicion” that they consume illegal substances. Although other states have passed laws requiring drug testing for certain federal benefits, Georgia’s law is the first to allow random testing of food stamp recipients.
In a ruling released this week, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Scriven has put a permanent halt on Florida’s suspicionless drug testing of welfare applicants and recipients, which was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott in 2011.
“There is nothing inherent in the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a concrete danger that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use,” Scriven wrote in her official opinion of the case; Lebron v. Florida Department of Children and Families. Scriven found that; “there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”
In a clear victory for civil rights and common sense, a federal district court has struck down a controversial policy at Linn State University in Missouri which requires all new students to submit to unprovoked drug testing. The court ruled this testing to be “unconstitutional”.
“Linn State required every incoming student to be tested for drugs, even though many of them would not be engaged in dangerous activities, and the college had no reason to believe any particular student was using drugs”, said Jason Williamson, an attorney for the ACLU, “Any student who refused to submit to the drug test—which is considered a search under the Fourth Amendment—would be denied the opportunity to pursue their education at Linn State.”