Drug Testing in the Workplace
Workplace Drug Testing Employee Rights and Concerns (Cont.)
Part 3 of 4 is below. Among other things, this part briefly addresses drug detection time, drug testing cutoff levels, and medical marijuana and other prescription medications.
Drugs Screened in a Workplace Drug Test
Most of the illegal drugs and optionally, alcohol and several commonly-abused prescription medications, are screened during workplace drug testing. See Workplace Drug Testing Cutoff Levels for a list of drugs that are typically screened.
Drug Detection Time in a Workplace Drug Test
Drugs or the resulting chemical changes (metabolites) stay in your body for some time after use, without intervention. How long after drug use that a test can detect it, is called drug detection time.
Drug detection time depends on a variety of variables. Regardless, drug detection time estimates have been worked out by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Medical Marijuana and Workplace Drug Testing
See the article Medical Marijuana and Employment Drug Testing.
Prescription Medications and Workplace Drug Testing
Although workplace drug testing procedures typically account for it, valid use of prescription medications still might trigger positive test results for commonly-abused drugs, depending on the medication. For example, a prescription pain reliever that includes the narcotic codeine or morphine might cause you to fail workplace drug testing for opiates.
So, be sure to tell your "testers" if you are taking one or more medications prescribed by a doctor. Also make sure that they put it in writing, if they don't give you the opportunity.
If you fail a drug test solely because you're taking a valid prescription medication that you're not abusing, but an employer disciplines you or refuses to hire you anyway, then you might have grounds for a lawsuit. That's especially true under the American's with Disabilities Act. Consult a lawyer about that.
Passive Drug Use and Workplace Drug Testing
Passive drug use is innocent, unintentional use. For example, incidentally inhaling ambient marijuana smoke at a rock concert is passive use. So is accidentally absorbing a drug through the skin, such as by handling a dollar bill that someone else rolled up to snort cocaine.
But, you have little to worry about. Passive "drug user" specimens typically measure well below the cutoff levels that trigger failing drug test results. For example, passive inhalation of marijuana smoke measures at about 5 ng/ml in a urine specimen, which is well below the typical 50 ng/ml cutoff level in an initial test. See Workplace Drug Testing Cutoff Levels for more information.
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